Are you thinking about a furnished rental in New York City but feeling overwhelmed about where to start? The furnished apartment rental process and the NYC real estate market differ from other destinations so it’s important to know what to expect and how best to prepare for your apartment search to save yourself a lot of wasted time and frustration. That’s why it’s important to work with a knowledgeable and licensed real estate agent to secure legal and dependable housing. Read on to learn more about how the furnished rental process works in NYC so you’ll know what to expect when working with your New York Habitat agent.
Timing Your Search
Naturally there will be more of a selection of furnished apartments to choose from if you give yourself plenty of time and start your apartment search early rather than last minute. “The early bird gets the worm” as they say! If you start early you can also browse our inventory and get an idea about pricing and prepare to adjust your budget if needed— many people underestimate the expensive rent prices in NYC!
That being said, it is possible to start looking too early when many availabilities have not opened up yet. For example, a year in advance is typically too early to book for a furnished rental. About 3 months ahead of your arrival is usually ideal, or even earlier for peak rental times. On the website you can search by the lease start date you need. If you or your agent see an apartment with availability dates listed well in advance (for example, you are looking in January for an apartment for the following November), then the apartment may be bookable immediately for a November lease start. If it is bookable in advance you would be wise to book it because pricing could go up as the rental dates get closer.
But if the furnished apartment you are interested in shows an available date on the website of months before your needed lease start date, the property owner is usually looking for a rental starting from the availability date shown(give or take a week or two), not leaving a large gap of empty dates between rentals – check with your agent to be sure. If you are looking far in advance for a short rental of only a month you might need to wait until availability showing closer to the date you need opens up. If your stay is several months away and you don’t see any apartments of interest showing available for your move in date in advance, you should check back with your agent periodically or check back on our website as the dates get closer to see what new options have opened up. But again, if you see an apartment you like on our website showing availability for your dates, move fast and reserve it before someone else does – life moves fast here in New York City!
From spring to fall is the peak rental season as interns, students and tourists flock to NYC. Keep in mind that most of our inventory gets booked well in advance so don’t wait until the last minute to book your rental or you will likely be out of luck! Summer is also peak time regarding pricing so if you see an apartment with a low price advertised in the winter (when pricing discounts are often in place) be aware that the price may be higher for summer. But by all means, if you see availability and a good price advertised in advance you should grab it while you can before the price goes up!
Our agents are experienced with seasonal pricing, availability and demand and are familiar with our listings so they can best direct your search and advise you on things like when you will need to make a fast decision in order not to lose the opportunity – the NYC rental market moves extremely fast so don’t be afraid to ask your agent for advice!
Targeting Your Search
Think about your budget and requirements, since NYC’s housing market is one of the most expensive in the world you might have to be prepared to make some compromises such as on location or amenities. You can read our blog on what trade-offs you could consider to find an apartment you can afford in NYC. If you want to target your search to a particular borough Manhattan/Brooklyn/Queens/Bronx etc) or particular neighborhoods, specify this information in your online request or to your agent. If you are not familiar with NYC and need to be close to or within an easy commute to a particular address (NYC is very commutable even from one borough to another via our subway and bus system), our agents can suggest convenient areas to rent in.
Pets, Children, Elderly and Special Needs Occupants
Similarly, if you need a furnished apartment with specific requirements, be sure to relay that information to your agent from the start. For example, a pet-friendly or child-safe apartment, or one accessible for the elderly or handicapped, a building with an elevator, or an apartment on a low floor if the building is a walk-up building. You can find more information about renting with pets in NYC on our blog.
If You Need to View a Furnished Apartment in Advance
The pace of furnished rentals goes very fast and the majority get booked remotely without an in-person viewing, so keep in mind that if you absolutely must view the apartment first, consider having a friend in New York view for you or ask your agent if a video walk-through is available. Otherwise you will need to check back with your agent closer to your arrival to see which apartment options are still available and to set up a viewing. Keep in mind that options that are showing available in advance may very well get booked before you arrive. Viewings often need to be set up 24 hours or more in advance so you will need to coordinate with your agents on which you want to view before you arrive. If an apartment is currently occupied, your agent needs to allow advance notice to the current tenant. And lastly, some apartments do not allow viewings at all when occupied so you please understand that some will not be viewable.
New York City has many different types of housing options from small walk-up brownstones to high-rise rental buildings, condominiums and co-ops. Each building has its own rental requirements and some condos and co-op buildings have a board approval process before any rentals are approved. Buildings with a board approval process will require financial paperwork such as tax returns, bank statements and pay stubs and the process could take from a week to a month to get to the final approval, depending on the building. You will need to plan in advance and allow time for the application and approval process to rent an apartment in one of these buildings. Some properties will require that you have an income of 40 times the monthly rent or that you have a guarantor who will be responsible for the payments.
New York City is a global marketplace and business center with people frequently arriving from all over the country and the world for work purposes, either short or long term. If you are coming to NYC for a job or internship, be prepared to provide a letter of employment from your employer showing where you will work and how much you will be paid or a letter of internship for those coming for short internships or medical rotations.
People also come from all over to attend universities, language courses and training programs in NYC. Some properties solely cater to student housing and you will need to provide proof of school enrollment for those. If you are student coming to study in NYC, have your paperwork prepared and ready to submit.
After your rental is accepted by the property owner/manager you will be asked to sign a Lease or Rental Agreement. Read the paperwork carefully and ask your agent if you have any questions. Paperwork varies by property, most is fairly simple but some can be a bit more extensive. The paperwork will either be emailed to you by your agent or you will be given a link to complete it online. Be prepared to submit a copy of a government issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport for all occupants for identification purposes.
What You Will Need to Pay
You should be prepared to pay an agency fee to New York Habitat and rent and a security deposit to the property owner or manager. Refundable security/damage deposits get returned generally within 14 days after your rental ends provided no damage has been done to the apartment and no lease terms were violated. Security deposit amounts vary but 1 month’s rent as a security deposit is typical. These will generally be due at the time of booking as will application or credit check fees if applicable. Depending on the particular property, the 1st month’s rent may also be due at the time of booking or if the booking is being done far in advance, the 1st month’s rent may be due later at some point before the move in date or at move in at the latest. Note that all payments must be received and cleared in the property owner’s account before move in will be approved so be sure to use a payment method that will ensure payment is received before your move in date.
New York Habitat’s agency fee can be paid by credit card, bank transfer, check or cash. Note that credit cards are generally not accepted for rent and security deposit. A limited number of properties do take credit card payment but will charge an additional 3-4% processing fee to do so.
Once you have provided all the information requested and the rental has been accepted both you and the property owner/manager will sign the Rental Agreement or Lease. Once the agency fee is paid you will receive an email rental confirmation with the owner’s contact information (phone and email) to arrange any further payments due and to coordinate your arrival and check-in. Some properties have a representative that will meet you on check-in to provide keys, some will leave keys for pick up at the front desk of the building, and others contact you 24-48 hours before your arrival to provide you with entrance codes for digital locks at the building and apartment.
Now that you’ve read all about what to expect from the furnished rental process in NYC, make sure you get in touch with New York Habitat by sending a NYC rental request through our website so one of our experienced agents can help you find the perfect apartment for your stay. Once they navigate you through the rental process you’ll be able to head off to the Big Apple with peace of mind and your furnished rental will be waiting for you!
My cousin has been thinking about moving into an apartment with some of her friends during the school year. She would really like to find an apartment that works for them with the help of a professional. I liked what you said about how she might need some tax returns, bank statements, and pay stubs when they have a board approval process.
Great article. I have been in NYC since years but still found some of the great info. Thanks for sharing and keep writing 🙂