The Rental High Season - Current Tips and a History of the NYC Summer Market
A single city-wide Moving Day was once a tradition in New York City dating back to colonial times and lasting until after World War II. On February 1, sometimes known as "Rent Day", landlords would give notice to their tenants what the new rent would be after the end of the quarter and tenants would spend good-weather days in the early spring searching for new homes. On May 1, all leases in the city expired simultaneously, causing thousands of people to move their homes on the same day.
Until World War II, the moving date of May 1, and later October 1 as well (as many people left the city during the summer and took back up residence upon their return in the fall) were the only set moving dates in New York City. Some remnants are still evident in commercial leases, which still typically run out on May 1 or October 1.
While there is no longer two specific "moving days" in NYC, there is still a definite moving season. Roughly 70% of NYC residents are renters and about 65% of renters who will move this year will do so between June and August.
If you are among the many scrambling to decide how, when, and where to begin your search this season, here are a few tips to help you stay competitive in a the summer rental market.
1. Act Early and Make A Plan
What, when, where, why, how - make a plan that answers all of these questions while you still have time to explore your options.
-Is this the year to move to a larger apartment, a new area, find your own place, find a roommate? Do you plan on getting a pet, a new job, or any other major life changes over the next year? What matters to you in your next apartment - do you want to find the ever elusive in unit washer/dryer this year?
-Name your priorities - location, space, lighting, kitchen size, building amenities, doormen, elevator, new appliances, price, etc.
-Do you have any flexibility with your current landlord on move-out dates? When do you need to inform your landlord of your decision to renew?
Since the market moves quickly and most apartments are listed as they become available, it can hard to start your search more than 6-8 weeks before your ideal move date. However, making a plan based on your answers above, and finding a real estate agent that you trust to help advise you on your best options is always the best first step you can take, even if you are still 2-3 months out from your move.
2. Be Prepared to Apply BEFORE You Start Looking
Owners and landlords vary on what they will require to apply. As a base-line set of documents, most will ask to see at least:
-Proof of Employment or Verification of income: A reference letter from you employer letter, OR a CPA letter is required for almost all rentals. It may take your employer a few days or even weeks to prepare, so you should ask for this before you start looking to make sure there is no delay. Employers and CPAs are familiar with the contents, but the letter should contain position, salary, dates of employment, and contact information for a supervisor or the HR person.
Other Paperwork to Have Ready:
-Photo ID and Basic Application Form
-Last 1-2 Years of Most RecentTax Returns
-Last 1-2 Most Recent Bank Statements for all accounts, checking/saving/investment
-Landlord reference letter from your current landlord stating you are a tenant in good standing (this is not always required but it is best to request one early just in case)
3. Know Your Budget
Take the time to research or speak to your broker about pricing and market trends in the neighborhoods you are interested in. Unless you plan to use a guarantor, your budget will capped by your annual income which must be at least 40x the monthly rent rate of your new home. Also, don't forget about upfront fees and deposits.
-As a general rule it is smart to plan that at lease signing you will need to have about 4x the monthly rent available to cover: 1 month deposit, first months rent, and application fee charged by the management of the building and a 15% broker fee.
-If you are looking in to renting a condo/coop apartment there may also be additional fees from the Condo/Coop Board that you should ask your agent to confirm.
4. Be Decisive
Don't second guess yourself when you find the one - the market moves at lightning speed during the summer months and in order to have all your hard work pay off, be prepared to put in an application as close to immediately after seeing an apartment as possible.
With all your puzzle pieces in place, you will have a clear picture of what you are looking for, what you can afford, and will be much more likely to find and seal the deal on the best new home for you - preparation and planning will always pay off, especially when competition for apartments is high.