8 tips for renting an apartment in New York City
We grilled Gary Malin of Citi Habitats about when to move, how to get your security back and more so you won’t have to suffer under those brick-shoe-wearing jerks upstairs any longer.
Renting in New York City can be the absolute worst. There’s the stress of finding The Perfect Place in your budget and preferred neighborhood, not only signing but understanding the mountain of paperwork that is your lease and the physical act of moving.
It’s enough to make you want to scream — or suffer under your brick-shoe-wearing neighbors for another year — but maybe we can help. Metro grilled Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats, for insider tips on when to find the best deals, how to go about breaking your lease and more. Happy packing!
As May through August is New York’s peak renting months, winter wins because there’s less demand, Malin said. Plus, “there’s always the potential to get a deal, whether the rents come down or incentives are added to make it more attractive,” he added.
Manhattan’s vacancy rate reached a historically high 2 percent last month, which “means the market is a little more tenant-friendly,” Malin said, citing pricing and new inventory, especially in the outer boroughs, “which have become first choices, like Long Island City in particular.”
Malin stresses that renters are not obligated to lease or buy with agents who show them properties. “I think people get caught up in the ‘I have to pay a fee, and I don’t want to pay a fee so I’m going to go alone,’” he said. “The reality is this market has tremendous no-fee opportunities where an agent can work with you and the owner can pay that agent the fee. If you always put the fee first versus finding the perfect home, at times, you might end up making a big mistake and paying more than you needed to.”
You know the area you want your dream apartment to be, but “maybe that area doesn’t check all the boxes, but the agent you’re working with can offer ideas and suggestions that could be a better deal for you,” Malin said.
While Malin does see renters who want to live near certain subway lines, “people aren’t as hyper-focused on the locations as they once were because they feel transportation options are better than they have been,” he said, citing ride-hailing apps, Citi Bike and the NYC Ferry.
There are many pet-friendly buildings in New York City, so “be very clear about your pet situation,” Malin urged. “Don’t think you can hide the pet from your agent or the owner. Don’t try to pull a fast one because in the end, the only person that’s going to suffer is you” — and your pet.
You finally got your dream abode, but now, for whatever reason, you have to leave before your lease ends. Though every owner’s policy is different, how you approach it could help you. “Pick up the phone, try to get a face-to-face meeting with them, explain your circumstances and find out what options exist,” Malin said.
But since “they’re not obligated to let you out of the lease, no more than they can take your apartment back from you for no reason,” he added, know you may have to pay a fee or find someone to take over your lease.
This one should be common sense. “First and foremost, be a good tenant. Pay your rent on time, don’t cause any damage or do work that wasn’t approved,” Malin said. “Tenants themselves are the best gatekeepers to getting back their money. If you own something, you want it returned in the condition you gave it.”