The application process to rent a new place in New York City can be stressful, so it's best to be prepared, especially if you're in a competitive borough or neighborhood. As you might expect, Manhattan apartments for rent typically have the most stringent requirements and demand, but nowadays, you'll also experience stricter applications and lots of competition from other prospective renters in Brooklyn and Queens.
NYC Rental Requirements
To rent an apartment in NYC you'll need to meet the income requirements for the building (typically 40x the monthly rent), complete a rental application, and submit supporting paperwork that verifies your income. NYC landlords will also run credit and background checks as part of the application process, so be prepared for thorough screening.
Documents Needed to Rent an Apartment in NYC
- Completed Rental Application
- Proof of Employment
- Proof of Income
- Bank Statements
- Photo ID
Completed Rental Application
-Complete your NYC rental application and make sure to pay all associated application fees as well as to sign the application and any background and credit check authorizations.
-Tenants and guarantors should be prepared to submit their individual, separate applications, and application fees.
*Tip- make sure you use blue or black ink if you’re filling out a paper application.
Proof of Employment
Letter of Employment / Offer Letter / CPA Letter (if self-employed)
-Must be on company letterhead and should include the contact information for your supervisor or HR Manager.
-Many landlords will accept “the work number” forms, but some won't. Make sure to confirm with your real estate agent or the landlord's representative if using the work number.
-Your proof of employment should be dated no more than 60 days before the application date.
-Should include hire date and annual salary. Salary requirements vary from building to building, but you've probably heard of the 40x rent rule for NYC apartments. That's a good starting place as most landlords expect at least 40x the monthly rent for tenants and 80X monthly rent for guarantors.
-CPA letters should consist of the previous year’s income and estimated income for the current year.
Proof of Income
-Copies of 2 most recent: Pay Stubs / W-2 Forms / Tax Returns
This depends on whether you're an employee, an independent contractor, or are self-employed. For employees, your most recent pay stubs or a W-2 will suffice, while independent contractors will need to submit tax returns for the two prior years accompanied by a letter from their CPA.
Copy of 2 most recent Bank Statements (checking or savings)
-Be prepared to show at least 2-3 months of rent in available funds if you’re applying as a tenant or six months of rent as a guarantor.
-Bank statements should show account numbers and the applicant’s name(s).
-Most landlords will require detailed bank statements that show every single page of the statement.
Copy of your U.S. Government Issued Photo ID
-Student ID’s are typically not considered acceptable forms of ID.
-Internationals (those not holding a Social Security Number) must provide a valid copy of Visa & Passport.
-If you have a pet, you may be asked to provide a picture and license number for your pet. If the landlord has breed restrictions or a weight limit for dogs, you might also be asked to provide a letter from your vet with the breed and weight information. Additional pet application fees and pet rent may apply.
NYC Rental Application Frequently Asked Questions
Can I combine my income with my spouse/partner/roommate/housemate?
Generally, yes, you can combine your income as most landlords apply the 40x rent rule to gross household income. One caveat is that landlords typically limit the number of leaseholders, so if you have multiple roommates or a large family, you may not be able to use everyone's combined income. Finally, a small percentage of landlords will not let you combine your income to qualify, but this is relatively rare.
Can I prepay the lease in full if I don't meet the landlord's income requirements?
Yes, in most instances, you can pay your lease upfront if you don't otherwise qualify. Some buildings, however, are rent-stabilized and cannot legally accept upfront payment. In these cases, you can still rent in those buildings by using a NYC guarantor service like Insurent or The Guarantors.
I do not currently meet the income requirements for the building/am unemployed/relocating, but have a signed offer letter with which I will. Will the landlord accept this?
It depends, and you should ask the landlord as they will likely consider this on a case-by-case basis, but assuming your job offer is guaranteed and will start before or around the same time as your new lease would you'll probably be fine.
Can I put up extra rent or a larger security deposit if I don't meet the landlord's income requirements?
This is case-by-case as it depends on the landlord as well as your situation, but a good rule of thumb is that larger high-rise buildings will be less flexible and accommodating than smaller landlords who may be open to accepting something along the lines of first and last months rent plus a 1-month security deposit.
Is the apartment application fee refunded if I don't get approved?
The apartment application fee is non-refundable pretty much all the time. Luckily the newly passed Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 caps rental application fees at $20.
Is there a standard NYC rental application form I can use to apply to multiple buildings?
Unfortunately, no, there isn't, although if you're applying to multiple buildings owned by the same landlord, you should be okay with just one application. Otherwise, you'll need to pay and fill out separate applications for each building you wish to apply at. One way to try and mitigate rental application fees is to ask your agent for a refund. Most agents will be willing to offer a rebate assuming you sign with them as they'd rather you not miss out on a place because you're worried about paying multiple application fees.