If it’s your first time renting an apartment in NYC, congrats! It’s an exciting decision to live in New York and you’ll have plenty of adventures and awesome experiences ahead of you. You can choose from a number of wonderful neighborhoods depending on your personal tastes, where you’d like to be located for work, your budget and so on, but there are some tried-and-true tips that will help you land a great apartment no matter where you are looking.

No-Fee Apartments

Many apartments in New York come with a hefty fee attached – usually 10-15 percent of the yearly rental cost. If you’re going through a broker, which makes the process much simpler, the fee will usually go straight to them. However, if you deal directly with an on-site leasing agent, you can often skip this fee. Many of them will advertise no-fee buildings or no-fee units. This just means you have to do the legwork of finding them and contacting them to set up a viewing – but it’s well worth the extra time in order to save a few thousand dollars! No Fee Rentals is a great resource for finding NYC properties without a fee – we keep our listings updated every day so you know you are checking out the best available properties.

Using a Broker

Brokers can be a big help in your hunt because many have exclusive access to great apartments and relationships with the management companies. This means they can slip your paperwork in with a recommendation and increase your chances of scoring the apartment you want. Most will ask for a 15 percent fee, but know that a lot of them will reduce this if you ask – depending on the monthly rental price, some will go down to 12 percent or even 10 percent, which can end up saving you a lot of money.

What to Look for in a Viewing

It’s good to take some time to try to see as many places as possible before you settle on the right one. When you do go to viewings, make sure to look for or ask the broker or leasing agent about the following:

  • Average utility costs
  • Rodent or pest issues
  • Reliable heat and hot water
  • On-site super who can tend to issues
  • Closets/storage space
  • Noise level
  • Whether pets are allowed
  • Amount required upfront (first month, last month, security, etc.)

These are just the basics, but there may be plenty of other factors that are important to you in choosing an apartment, such as amount of sunlight it gets, number of units in the building, washer/dryer, dishwasher and so forth.

Living With Roommates

One of the best ways to lower your rent is by living with roommates in NYC. Studios and one-bedroom apartments tend to be much more expensive than two- and three-bedroom units. If you have friends or acquaintances who are interested in sharing a space, you can start to look at bigger apartments together. Otherwise, you can ask around for friends of friends who might be looking, check sites like Craigslist for open bedrooms in other people’s apartments that you can rent, or look for ads from other people who want to go in on the hunt with another person. If you don’t mind sharing your space with someone else, this can often reduce your rent by hundreds of dollars.

RELATED: Finding a Roommate for Your First NYC Apartment

Gathering Your Paperwork

Before you get started on the hunt, there are some basic paperwork essentials that pretty much every broker, landlord or agent will ask to see.

  • Copy of your government issued photo ID
  • Proof of Income (paystubs and/or a letter from your employer stipulating how much you make)
  • One or two years of tax returns
  • Copy of the beginning/ending balance of your bank statement for the past two to three months
  • Copy of your credit report (many times they will charge you a $25-$75 application fee to cover the cost of running this)
  • Proof of any other assets you have, such as savings accounts, IRAs, etc.
  • Copy of Guarantor’s photo ID and Tax Return (some landlords require a guarantor from prospective tenants)
  • Rental Screening Report (many times you will be charged an application charge to cover the cost of running this report)

There could be some additional paperwork that landlords or agents will require depending on your circumstances, but it’s good to know these basics so you can jump on an apartment as soon as you’re ready!

We own and manage over 50 buildings in and around Manhattan and, with us, there’s never a fee. Be sure to check out our listing of available apartments to find something that’s sure to meet your needs and budget.