New York First-time Renting Guide
For those who are renting a house in New York for the first time, congratulations on embarking on a new journey in a new city! The mission of ACRE NY is to accompany and assist you in easily settling into your new home! So, before we start this journey, let's get to know some basic information about renting a house in New York!
Studio: A studio is essentially a large suite, often chosen by people who wish to live alone. It typically consists of a kitchen, bathroom, and living area. Some buildings also offer larger studios known as Alcove Studios, which have a sleeping area, but the living area and sleeping area are not separated, making it suitable for couples.
1B1B: This stands for 1 bedroom 1 bathroom, which is what we commonly refer to as a one-bedroom apartment.
2B2B: This stands for two bedrooms and two bathrooms. If the living room is divided into a bedroom, then three students can share the apartment. The student living in the master bedroom can use the attached bathroom and will typically need to pay a larger share of the rent. The students in the second bedroom and the one living in the converted living room share the larger bathroom, with the student in the second bedroom paying more rent than the one living in the converted living room.
2B1B: This means two bedrooms and one bathroom, where the students in the master and secondary bedrooms need to share a bathroom.
1. Downtown, which is the financial center of New York, around the World Trade Center, Wall Street, is suitable for office workers on Wall Street, or students from Pace University and NYU Tandon. Downtown has a concentration of rental properties, and many buildings are converted from offices, so the buildings tend to be older. Some of them do not have washers and dryers inside. The buildings on Wall Street have fewer units with good views since the surrounding buildings are relatively tall. Of course, there are also some newer buildings here with excellent conditions and facilities, but the prices are relatively high.
2. Midtown, around 14th-59th Street, namely around Pennsylvania Station, Times Square, Fifth Avenue, most luxury buildings are concentrated in Midtown West. It is a tranquil place in a bustling area, an excellent choice for students from Baruch, NYU, and Fordham. Midtown West is quite fashionable; new buildings near the river are abundant and mostly inhabited by young professionals and students. The newer luxury buildings have comprehensive facilities and services, but they might be a bit far from subway stations.
3. Upper West and Upper East, around 60th-96th Street. Upper West is practically a dormitory for Columbia University students; walking to school is not a dream. The old buildings in the Upper East also have their unique charm. However, the rents in Manhattan are always astonishingly high. Many people choose to live in the surrounding areas but often ask whether these places are safe and convenient. Here is to dispel some of your prejudices~
Downtown Brooklyn is very safe. The area is also equipped with comprehensive living facilities, including large supermarkets (Whole Foods, Target), an Apple flagship store, and a variety of restaurants. Due to the construction of many high-end residences in the area, patrols have become more frequent, enhancing safety significantly. Many modern rental buildings with comprehensive facilities have been built in recent years. It's quite close to NYU Tandon and Parsons, within walking distance. The monthly rent for a studio is $1600+, for a 1B (one bedroom, one living room) it's $2000+, and for a 2B, it's around $3000.
Long Island City
LIC is an area that has developed since 2010. The riverfront area of LIC, Center Blvd, mainly consists of homes with beautiful views of Manhattan across the river, providing a pleasant environment. However, the transportation in this area is not very convenient, requiring around 10 minutes to reach the 7 train.
The most developed part of LIC recently is the core area, which includes subway stations: Queens Plaza, Queensboro Plaza, and Court Sq. There are seven subway lines nearby, with a 5-minute journey to Midtown Manhattan. The buildings are new, with good facilities, and are cost-effective, making them a popular choice for student rentals in recent years. Travel to schools like NYU, Parsons, and even closer to Fordham, only takes about 30 minutes. Notable buildings such as Hayden, 1 QPS, Jackson Park, Eagle Lofts are very popular, and a favorite restaurant among international students, Xi'an Famous Foods, has opened here. This area also offers easy access to the most diverse Chinese takeout in Flushing, and reaching Flushing only takes 30 minutes!
Roosevelt Island is a narrow independent island on the east side of Manhattan, with very good public safety and a 0% crime rate. There are free shuttle buses on the island that take people to the tram or subway station, and the tram goes directly to the F subway line station. The rent is generally cheaper than Manhattan/LIC/Downtown Brooklyn, but the downside is that the transportation is relatively inconvenient, with only one F subway station, and the subway sometimes stops running on holidays.
including Newport, Grove St, and others, is just across the river from Manhattan Island. The surrounding environment is safe and quiet, with well-developed basic facilities, including BJ Wholesale, DaHua Supermarket, large shopping malls, and parks. Jersey City mainly consists of four areas: Newport, Exchange Place, Grove St, and Journal Square. Each area has a subway station. Newport is near the river, with beautiful scenery and facilities including a large shopping mall, beach, and park. Exchange Place is also by the river, predominantly featuring office buildings and luxury apartment buildings. Grove St is the most residential area, with 99 DaHua Supermarkets and numerous dining options; it is mainly composed of low-rise residential areas, but also has several high-end rental buildings, such as 235 Grand and 50/70/90 Columbus. Journal Square is still in the development stage, with fewer luxury buildings, but there is a popular luxury building, Journal Squared, which is popular among New York students. The building is located just above a subway station, making travel convenient
Initial Period of Rental
Q: How early should I start looking for a house if I want to rent?
A: Generally speaking, for Manhattan and Downtown BK, 30-45 days in advance is good. For LIC Long Island City and New Jersey, there are listings available 60-90 days in advance.
Q: Can I schedule the room tour in the evening?
A: The closing time for the building's Leasing Office is 6-7 pm, so unfortunately, it is not possible to schedule a room tour if it is too late.
However, ACRE NY is also at your service on weekends! Those who are busy with work or school during the weekdays can choose to schedule the room tour with us on weekends~
Q: What is included in the rent? Is there furniture in the house?
A: Generally, the monthly rent includes not only the housing rent but also water and gas, oh, but you need to set up and pay for electricity and internet by yourself. The internet fee ranges from $70 to $100, and the electricity fee varies depending on the usage each month, usually higher in summer~
Most of the apartments do not have furniture; everyone needs to purchase it before moving in. However, there are also some serviced apartments like those in buildings managed like hotels, such as Alta+, which offer fully furnished apartments, they even provide towels!
The most convenient place to buy furniture is IKEA~ Of course, there are also many Chinese furniture dealers, and you can place orders on WeChat! The second-hand furniture WeChat trading group is also very active, you can contact our customer service: homieland to join!
Q: What do Net Price and Gross Price mean?
A: Gross Price refers to the original price of the house, while Net Price refers to the price after some buildings offer discounts in specific months. These buildings may offer 1-2 months free, which is then averaged into the monthly price. However, when actually paying the rent, if the building offers one month free for a one-year lease, usually the first month’s rent is waived, and the subsequent months are paid according to the Gross Price. Net Price is equivalent to Gross Price * 13/12.
Q: I am out of state/international and can’t come to New York to view the property. What should I do?
A: Don’t worry! We have professional video viewing services. We record and introduce the house comprehensively, not only capturing the rooms but also the building facilities! This lets you understand the sublet information more accurately and rent with more confidence! We also offer additional live video handover services. Every time we handover to a client, we can live stream the condition of the house, allowing the homeowner to grasp the most authentic firsthand information, preventing unnecessary losses.
Q: When looking for a roommate to share a rental, how is the rent allocated? Can the living room be fully partitioned? How much does the partition cost?
A: The living room and bedroom of a 1b generally differ by $150-$200; the living room and secondary bedroom of a 2b differ by $200, and the secondary bedroom and master bedroom differ by $200. These are our suggested prices! The actual prices can be adjusted according to room size or the difficulty level of finding a matching roommate. Speaking of living in the living room, roommates sometimes choose to partition their living area, which not only provides personal space but also increases privacy. Most buildings do not accept fully partitioning the living room (i.e., sealing off the top). Partitions need to leave a 12-inch gap from the ceiling. Currently, buildings in New York that accept full partitions include Herald Towers (Midtown), The Max (Midtown), The Paris (Upper West Side), etc. Generally, buying cabinets for simple partitioning costs around $200-$300; if hiring a professional partitioning company, costs vary from $800-$1,200; remember not to damage the original walls during partitioning, otherwise, the building will deduct from the deposit. Please note, shared rentals come with a commitment to share risks.
Q: What general requirements do properties in New York have for tenants?
A: Yes, there are. Generally, well-managed mid-to-high-end properties require a good credit record, no criminal record, and an annual income that is 40-45 times the rent.
Q: What about those with no credit/inadequate income, such as students, how can they meet the living conditions?
A: Currently, for over 95% of the mid-to-high-end properties in New York City, policies for international students/those whose income doesn’t meet 45 times the rent requirement have been changed to mandatorily require the purchase of residency guarantee insurance. They do not accept one-time prepayment or additional deposit methods.
Why is there a mandatory requirement to purchase guarantee insurance? The main reason is that the United States is a credit-based country, and landlords have a strict screening mechanism for tenants. If there is no credit or income, it is impossible to rent normally. In such cases, tenants are required to purchase insurance through a guarantee company as a guarantee. That is to say, if the tenant fails to pay the rent, the guarantee company needs to compensate the landlord for the loss. This is the role of guarantee insurance.
Then why don't buildings accept one-time prepayment of a year's rent? In fact, the government's reform intention is to protect tenants, because for local tenants in the United States, paying a year’s rent at once is actually a significant financial pressure. To protect tenants and for tax settlement reasons, policies have been reformed to prohibit one-time prepayment of rent.
Apart from New York City, New Jersey City accepts other forms of renting, such as paying additional deposits or one-time prepayment of a year’s rent.
Q: Besides purchasing guarantee insurance, are there other ways to provide a guarantee?
A: Yes, there are. You can also use a personal guarantor. The personal guarantor needs to have a tax record in the United States and the taxed amount should be 80 times the housing rent. For example, for a house with a monthly rent of 4000 US dollars, the guarantor's annual income needs to exceed 320,000 US dollars.
The personal guarantor needs to fill out the application form with the lessee, submit personal materials for review, and the guarantor’s name will also appear in the contract, requiring signature confirmation.
Q: What materials do I need to prepare for renting and signing a lease?
A: For International Students:
Documents proving valid identity: I20 + First page of Passport + Visa (must be valid during the lease period)
Documents proving enrollment/OPT: School's Enrollment letter/ Offer Letter / Schedule/ EAD card
Proof of valid bank information in the United States: The most recent bank statement (can be downloaded from online banking)
Landlord reference Letter (required by some properties): Previous residence proof, can be the building's rent history/ recommendation letter written by the previous landlord/ payment records of the previous dormitory
Documents proving valid identity: First page of Passport + Visa/ H1B/ EAD card/ US ID (must be valid during the lease period)
Employment information: Employment Letter + Pay stubs (usually 3-4)
Proof of valid bank information in the United States: The most recent bank statement (can be downloaded from online banking)
Landlord Reference Letter (required by some properties): Previous residence proof, which can be the rent history of the building, recommendation letter written by the previous landlord, or payment records from a previous dormitory.
Q: When should the rent be paid after signing the contract?
A: Generally, it is required to pay one month's rent and one month's deposit within a week after signing the contract. Payment can be made online through the official payment platform of the building or by Bank Certified Check.
Q: When can I move in? Do I need to make an appointment to move?
A: Once the application process is completed and the rental contract is signed, you can move in on the first day of the contract. If you have large furniture during the move, you need to reserve the elevator with the building management. If you are moving at the end of the month, it is recommended to make a reservation early. The reservation method is simple, just contact the building's Management Office directly. The reserved elevator can be used for two hours.
Q: If I renew the lease, will the rent increase?
A: To be more attractive, many buildings offer 1-2 months of free rent to new tenants in the first year. However, this offer does not apply to lease renewals, so the rent will be higher than the previous year. In a prime location like New York, it’s inevitable that rents will rise.
Q: Can the apartment be sublet?
A: Yes, it can! We can help you find the next tenant to take over the lease. We have also recently launched a new short-term rental program, with reasonable fees, to help everyone quickly find tenants and provide professional property management services (handing over keys, cleaning houses, purchasing furniture, etc.). If needed, you can contact us.
Q: What are the ways to sublet?
A: 1. Sublease/Sublet
Tenants need to submit an application to the building. Most apartments allow subleasing, but written permission from the landlord or management is required. You can check the detailed terms in the contract you signed with the apartment before moving in. The management of the building will conduct a background check on the new tenant to ensure they meet the qualification requirements of the apartment. The fees involved in this process are mainly application fees. The new tenant needs to pay rent, deposit, and other related fees to the landlord.
2. Lease Swap –Terminate your own responsibilities for the rental contract
Many tenants are concerned about whether they can completely sever their relationship with the rental contract. This is generally referred to as a lease swap.
If the sublease period is relatively long, you can terminate all your responsibilities for the rental contract by changing the leaseholder, reducing the risk. However, many buildings do not allow this method. In addition to completing the application process with the building, adding or removing the leaseholder generally incurs additional fees.
3. The landlord can also set the sublet tenant as a legal occupant.
In addition to the relatively complex processes mentioned above, you can also sublease by adding an occupant. In this case, you only need the subsequent tenant to apply as an occupant, pay the application fee, and move in smoothly. The building usually only requires basic information registration for the occupant and does not involve management approval or background checks, making it relatively easy and simple. This method is most suitable for short-term leases or short-term rentals between friends.
Q: What happens if the lease is terminated in violation of the contract?
A: Once signed, the lease becomes effective. If you are unable to move in after signing the lease, you must inform the apartment and discuss a solution. Otherwise, the apartment has the right to pursue the full rent for the entire lease term. In the United States, unilaterally breaking the lease is not only irresponsible behavior but also has a significant impact on your credit record. In serious cases, it may result in legal proceedings in housing court, expulsion from school, court summons, and even deportation.