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Questions you should ask when renting your first NYC apartment

December 14, 2022 | By Roomrs


Renting your first NYC apartment can be both a thrilling and stressful experience. If you find a listing you like, it’s important to move quickly, as someone else might snatch it up before you have a chance to send in your paperwork. But with that being said, there are some critical questions you should ask your prospective landlord before making such a huge commitment. Asking these questions before your lease signing, ensures you don’t make a regretful decision you can’t get out of.


Below is a list of essential questions you should ask before renting your first apartment in NYC.

Know Your Lease

A lease signing usually happens after you’ve been approved for the apartment. However, you can ask for a copy of the lease beforehand, to make sure you have thoroughly reviewed the document. Go over things like your move-in and move-out dates, the length of your lease, how much you’re expected to pay in security deposits, the policies for lease renewals, etc.

Breaking the Lease

You also need to be aware of what protocols are in place if you wish to terminate your lease early. You may want to break your lease for a variety of reasons; maybe you aren’t getting along with your landlord or property manager or got hired at a new company that's a long commute from your current apartment, or maybe you’ve just outgrown the space. Either way, breaking a lease in NYC is not easy. You may be required to pay 3 months' rent upfront or find someone to take your place before you can move out. Nonetheless, it’s important to know what options are available to you in case you decide to break your lease.


Although legal in NYC, some landlords have explicit rules against subletting your apartment. Subletting is basically re-renting your apartment to a third party while your lease is still in effect. For example, let’s say you have a long-distance boyfriend in France. He asks you to come to visit him for a few months, as the last few times you’ve seen each other it has been in New York. You consider it, but you don’t want to continue paying rent every month while your apartment remains vacant. In this instance, you may wish to sublet. However, you need to make sure you get written approval from your landlord or property manager beforehand. For this reason, you should discuss the issue of subletting before signing your lease, just to make sure.



How Rent is Paid

All landlords, property managers, and rental companies have different ways of requesting you pay rent. Some require you to drop off a check in person or have it mailed out, others ask that you enroll in automatic payments via an online portal. Payments that are made electronically sometimes require an additional processing fee. Be aware of what method your apartment complex uses, ahead of time.

What is Included in your Rent

Sometimes the amount you pay for rent every month includes just that, your rent. Other times landlords will add in the cost of utilities, free wifi, parking, and other amenities. To budget correctly, you need to know what your rent does and does not cover.

Roomrs makes it easy by including all utilities as well as some amenities in the price of rent. Check them out if you’re interested in an extra room for rent, as well as a hassle-free moving process from start to finish.

Renters’ Insurance

Renters’ insurance is usually something that is discussed before the lease signing. Some landlords pin it as a non-negotiable requirement, while others don’t. Out of 4 New York apartments that I’ve lived in, only one made renters’ insurance mandatory before moving in. However, do your own research. Even if it’s not required, renters insurance can be beneficial in protecting you as the tenant.



Can I Make Changes to My Apartment?

While some landlords don’t have an issue with you making changes to the apartment, others are less flexible. If you are planning to do renovation work on your new unit, make sure you discuss it with your landlord first. Some people sign onto a lease, knowing they want to make certain changes, but fail to discuss it with their landlord. This could lead to problems later, as things like painting, drilling holes into the wall to install artwork, or retiling the floors, etc, may not be permitted. Even if you think you are making the apartment better, your landlord may not go for it.


At some point or another, there will be things in your apartment that need fixing. Whether it be electronic issues, broken appliances or fixtures, leaky faucets, and other things of that nature. You likely have to contact your landlord or super about what needs to be fixed, but each apartment complex has its own way of handling repairs. Make sure you know how to put in a request for repairs, and who needs to be contacted. If things are not being fixed on time, do some research on your rights as a tenant, in case further action needs to be taken.

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