Rental Guide

Necessary Documents

Organize and prepare the necessary financial information and documentation

Have several copies of your documentation ready (see below), and have your finances in order before you start looking at apartments. Also, bring your checkbook with you when you look at apartments, when you see an apartment you like, you can immediately fill-out an application and pay the application fee. It speeds up the process and if you are the first person to fill-out an application for the apartment, your chances of getting the apartment are much higher.

Most landlords request the following:

  • Application fees (i.e. Rental buildings: $65-$100; Condos: $300-$1,000; Co-ops: $600-$1,500)
  •  Income requirements – gross annual income needs to be 40 - 50 times the monthly rent (i.e. gross annual income=$120,000 / monthly rent=$3,000)
  • If using a real estate broker, fees are typically 12 - 15% of the annual rent (i.e. monthly rent=$3,000; annual rent=$36,000; 12% of annual rent=$4,320)
  • At lease signing, certified checks are required for the first month’s rent, the security deposit (typically 1-2 month’s rent) and the broker’s fee (if applicable).
  • Credit check, a way of confirming money borrowing and bill payment history, will be conducted on all apartment applicants

Documents required when applying:

  • Letter from your employer stating position, salary and start date
  • Last two pay stubs
  • Last two years’ tax returns (or proof of consistent income)
  • Verification of other income
  • Last two months’ bank statements
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of previous landlords
  • Two personal and two business reference letters
  • Verification of other assets (real estate, securities, etc.)
  • Photo identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.)

If your salary level and total financial picture does not meet the landlord's requirements, you will need a co-signor, or guarantor, to guarantee the lease. Landlords prefer a family member who lives in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. The guarantor must provide the same documentation as the renter and have a gross annual income of 80 to 100 times the monthly rent.  Prepare your potential guarantor for this possibility in advance.

If relocating from outside New York City, additional preparation might be necessary before coming to New York.  Landlords will not accept personal or out-of-state checks.  They require certified funds. Anyone renting or relocating should try to establish a New York bank account before beginning a search.  If this is not possible, have easy access to the necessary funds.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, or you pay taxes outside of the U.S., or you do not have any credit history in the U.S., you may be required to pay additional security at the time of lease signing. This can be as much as two to twelve months’ rent in advance.

If your income is too low for many market rate apartments, or you do not have a credit history, you might need to initially share an apartment or find a sublet. Many people new to New York start out with a share or sublet. Opportunities are usually abundant, financial requirements are not as stringent, and the initial cost is usually just the first month’s rent and one month’s rent as security deposit. Initially having something less permanent will allow you to get your bearings, take the time to look around and also build-up some credit history. Refer to Section 4 for more information about sharing or subletting an apartment.

If you have concerns about your credit history, you can check your credit report every year on or Both pull credit reports from all three agencies – Trans Union, Equifax and Experian.

If you cannot meet the landlord’s financial requirements and do not have a relative that can guarantee the rent, an alternative might be Insurent, which can guarantee the lease on your behalf. More details are on their website.