New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Finding an Apartment

Searching well in advance of your actual move-in date may seem desirable, but the New York real estate market is unique in its pace. Be prepared to discover that vacancies do not make themselves known until approximately thirty days before move-in. It will be difficult to view an available apartment before this. Any apartment you find well in advance of your desired move-in date will likely not be vacant when you are ready to move. A two to four week period is usually sufficient for an apartment search in New York City.

That being said, you can use the time leading up to your actual search to review online listings, look at neighborhoods, and review market data so that you are prepared and confident when you begin your housing search in earnest.

Do Your Research

The most crucial component of apartment hunting in New York City is going into the rental market prepared. Whether you are looking for sublets, apartment rentals, or roommates, there are a variety of factors that you need to consider first.  Check out our Glossary page for more information on commonly used terms in the NYC rental market.

Manage your expectations. The newer the apartment, the appliances, the facilities and conveneiences - like proximity to a subway or even NYU, means a higher price. Elevators and a doorman add to the price as well. Be open to the possibility of having to live in Brookly, Queens or even New Jersey to get a better price and more space. Know your wants from your must haves -- more than one bathroom or bedroom, quiet neighborhood, closet space, safety of the neighborhood, building amentieis.  Basically, go into your search knowing what you can live with and what you can't live without!

Questions to Ask

As you begin your search, make sure to include these questions to your own:

  • Are utilities included in the rent?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Is pest extermination an additional expense or a service provided by the building management?
  • Does the superintendent live on site? If not, is one available by phone?
  • How close are the nearest police and fire stations?
  • Are the building and surrounding areas well illuminated at night?
  • How close is the building to high traffic, well-traveled areas?
  • Is there a security system in the building?
  • Does the building have a doorman or buzzer system for guests and deliveries?
  • Are the locks on the doors of the building and the space adequately secure?
  • Is there a peephole in the door to see who is calling?
  • Is there a sufficient number of working smoke detectors in the living space and hallways?
  • Are there adequate emergency escape routes in case of fire?
  • What is the area's crime rate? (Statistics of reported crimes can be obtained by visiting the local police precinct closest to the building.)
  • How accessible is the building for a person in a wheelchair or other mobility issues.

Applications for an Apartment

Landlords generally approve applicants based on the strength and/or balance of an individual's income, credit, assets, and guarantor. The following are commonly required information and details that will help you prepare for completing an application for an apartment:

  • Income In Manhattan- most landlords will require that you earn annually at least 40 to 50 times the amount of the monthly rent. If the rent is $1500 per month, you may need to show approx. $60,000 in annual income. In the outlying areas of Manhattan (Brooklyn, Queens, NJ, etc.) most landlords will require less income, approximately 30 to 35 times the amount of monthly rent. Roommate/Shares and Sublets may require less annual income as well.
  • Grants, Scholarships, Stipends, Fellowships/Assistantships, and other awards are considered income. Loans, although currently a source of income, are essentially future debt. Many landlords may look less favorably on loans as income without additional qualifying support (guarantor or paying multiple months rent up-front).
  • Credit - Having good credit is important, and it is a major part of the approval process. Landlords use your credit rating and history to make an assessment concerning your bill paying habits and responsibility to debt. If your income is lower than the customary requirement, a higher credit score (e.g., 700 or more) will help.
  • Bad Credit - a few late payments in your past may not hurt your credit but high credit card balances, past due or late payments, delinquincies and collections or a Housing Court ruling. If your credit score is lower (e.g., 550 or less), it can hurt your application and prevent you from getting the apartment.
  • Assets - Additional assets will help your application. Many students may not have enough income to meet the customary requirements, and either have weak or no credit history at all (this is particularly true for international students). If you have 6 to 12 months of rent available in a bank account (loans, parents, grants), landlords may accept multiple months of rent or security deposit paid in advance as an alternative way of approving you (*Make sure this arrangement is in writing*). If your credit is very poor, some landlords may still refuse to rent to you.
  • Guarantor - For students or young individuals who do not meet the income, or credit requirements, a guarantor might be the solution. A guarantor (co-signor) is someone who is willing to take the financial liability of your lease if you are unable or unwilling to fulfill it. The guarantor is generally not required to pay anything in order to get you approved; however by agreeing to guarantee you, they are responsible for all terms of your lease. If you are sharing an apartment, it is important to understand the guarantor is ultimately responsible for the entire lease. Landlords may accept multiple guarantors, however, they are not legally obligated to do so. If a landlord is inclined to refuse an application based on poor credit, the decision to allow a guarantor for approval may depend on how bad the credit is and how strict their policies are. Sometimes a combination of guarantor and extra security are needed.

*A note for international students: Landlords may ask for three or more months' deposit on an apartment if you do not have a guarantor who is employed in the United States.



Off Campus Living Pre-Recorded Webinar

Take a look at our pre-recorded presentation on your own time. This presentation will provide you with information on how to navigate this website and make the most of the resources available.
Read More

Public Advocate

NYC Public Advocate's Office

Tenants' Rights information, advocacy organizations for tenants, legal aid, and a "Worst Landlord Watchlist".
Read More


A guarantor, also called a co-signor, is someone who is willing to guarantee your lease. The guarantor is responsible for all terms of your lease and guaranties not only your share of the rent but the entire lease - if in a share situation.   Below are fee based guarantor's if you do not have someone who can co-sign for you:

Note that NYU is not affiliated with any of those listed above. 

Using a Real Estate Broker

A very common way to find an apartment in New York City is through a real estate broker. New York State licenses real estate brokers and salespersons. Brokers charge a commission for their services which is usually a stated percentage of the first year’s rent. The amount of the commission is not set by law and should be negotiated between the parties. The broker must assist the client in finding and obtaining an apartment before a commission may be charged. The fee should not be paid until the client is offered a lease signed by the landlord. The broker may also charge the client a reasonable amount to conduct a credit check. Under the Rent Stabilization Code, a broker’s commission may be considered “rent” in excess of legal rent when there is too close of a business or financial connection between the broker and the landlord.

For a list of brokers, not affiliated with NYU, however provided as they have indicated an interest in working with college students in their search for accommodations, is available under the Apartment Search Links tab.

NYC and Neighborhood Resources

Visit our resource pages for information about local storage, moving, appliance and furniture rentals, and other helpful information.  Read more »

NYU Footer