NYC Apartment Living: Cost of apartments, Rent control, guarantors, what you need to make to live here!

So how much does an apartment cost???

The answer is, “A lot!” It’s no secret NYC real estate is expensive. It all depends on the location, the amenities, and the condition of the building. Amenities may include doorman, laundry, elevator, dishwasher, luxury style, gym, and dry cleaning in the building. Neighborhood preferences change, and what’s hot today in NYC may be out of vogue tomorrow. Keep in mind that when many people think of NYC, they immediately think of Manhattan (even though this is only part of the place.) So, the breakdown for Manhattan goes something like this: the most affordable areas in Manhattan are the Upper East Side, Midtown West, Hells Kitchen, Lower East Side and the Financial District. Anything in the East or West Village, Union Square, or Chelsea area will be significantly more expensive. I can’t be specific on what area is charging what because it also depends on the management company/owner. I worked as a real estate broker during 2006, and these were the average prices:

Studio – $1500-2500.00
One bedrooms– $2200-3500
Convertible 2 bedroom (one bedroom with a wall division)- $2600-4000
Convertible 3 bedroom (two bedroom with a wall division)- $3500-6000
REAL (no conversion necessary) Two bedrooms– $3700-5000
REAL (no conversion necessary) Three bedrooms -$ 3800- 7500

Please note that the lower end of the price for each type of apartment could mean that it’s not in as trendy of a location, it has less amenities, no doorman, no laundry, is not close to a subway, etc. The higher the end of price range for each apartment could mean a trendier location, more amenities, a doorman, laundry, it’s close to a subway, has an elevator etc. If you want to know what a specific apartment would cost with specific amenities please submit your question ABOVE, and I will respond within 24 hours on this page.

Are rents going to go down anytime soon?

Rents often fluctuate with the sales market and interest rates. However, in Manhattan where inventory is always limited, rents consistently increase every year. In fact, in 2006 the prices went up an average of 10 to 15% over the previous year.

How much does rent increase ever year?

If the apartment is not “rent controlled” or “rent stabalized” the landlord is allowed to increase rent as much as he/she wants from year to year, obviously within reason to keep you there or to get someone to rent an apartment. The landlords goal is to keep you staying in their unit so most raise the rent somewhere in between 5-10% per year. ($2000 apartment rent increase of $100-200) If you decide it is to much of an increase and you move out that means the landlord will lose out on at least 2 weeks to as many weeks as it takes to get a new qualified tenant in. In a co-op situation the landlord might raise the rent anywhere from 0-5% because they really do not want to go through the process of finding a qualified tenant that has to go through a board interview, they could lose out on 2-3 months of rent. This also depends on location and desirability of the apartment. If you are living in the West Village in a well priced apartment and the landlord knows they can get a significant amount more they will raise the rent that amount. I had a friend who lived in a $2000 studio in the West Village, they raised the rent to $2600 the next year, clearly significantly more than 10%, more about 30% increase. It happens. My suggestion is try to get locked into a two year lease if the landlord will want you. If the landlord wants a 10% increase for the second year, take it.

Do I need a roommate?

If you are making over $80,000 per year, then you could afford NYC rent without a roommate. If you are like the rest of us who spend every dime we have the moment that it comes in and make less than $80,000 annually, then YES, you will need a roommate in Manhattan. An average sized studio in Manhattan (300-400 square feet) in an elevator building costs around $2,000 per month. A convertible 2-bedroom in Manhattan in an elevator building is around $3,000. The difference between living by yourself and living with someone averages about $500 per month in additional costs. Add that to your share of utilities and it adds-up fast. Plus share of costs for utilities and other bills. Again, where you live will determine your rent, but you can be certain that sharing living costs with someone in any neighborhood will lessen your financial burden.

Should I live in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Hoboken, Jersey City or Queens to save money?

There is a huge migration of young people moving to Brooklyn or Queens: a new generation of “hipsters” who refuse to pay outrageous rents and would rather spend the extra time commuting than blow money on a tiny cube of a place. This is a personal choice. With that said, I know many people in their 20’s and 30’s who live in all of these areas and swear by them. BUT, because Manhattan is becoming so expensive, the apartments in the boroughs have now become higher in rent as well. Neighborhoods in Brooklyn (such as Park Slope, Williamsburg, and Cobble Hill) are just as expensive as Manhattan was 2 years ago. But they are still less expensive than current prices, and you tend to get more space for the dollar. If you work in any of these areas, it might be smart to avoid both the commute and higher rents, and spend your extra money cabbing into the city on the weekends for your dose of NYC.

OR like my friends you can be the Anti-Manhattanite in Brooklyn because you are above all the commercialism and consumerism and the best restaurants and bars are in Brooklyn… bla bla bla.

ALSO Broker fees are non-existent or lower than if you were renting in Manhattan…it is that whole supply/demand thing.

What does “rent control” and “rent stable” mean?

Due to housing shortages during World War II, NYC (and other urban areas across the United States) instituted rules to keep rents in check. They didn’t want to see rents shoot up in urban areas with a drastic influx of people. A residential building that was constructed in NYC prior to February of 1947 is under rent control, meaning that the owner is allowed to charge a rent based upon “reasonable” operating costs plus a “reasonable” profit. Rent control also restricts the rights of an owner to evict a renter. Rent stabilization is basically a continuation of this program, and it too limits eviction except for circumstances allowed by law. Price control is the obvious benefit of rent control and rent stabilization. Some make the argument that rent control only dampens the housing market by providing little incentive for new buildings to be built. It is a political argument over whether or not it is good or bad to have rent control. Debate the merits of the issue on your own. This site is devoted to giving you a basic understanding of what rent control is so that you know what you are getting into when you rent in a rent controlled building.

Just the facts.

If you want more info check out:

Rent Guidelines Board FAQs

You asked “What to do if my parents (guarantors) don’t make 80 x’s monthly rent? I’ve been sharing a two bedroom for two years,working, but have to move out because roommate is moving. Parents have great credit and can put six months rent up front. Will I qualify or be rejected automatically?

I have received this question often. If you have been a steady working person for two years who has good credit you will still be a great candidate for most management companies. If you make 40 times your portion of the rent than you won’t need a guarantor. If you do not make that much and your parents do not as well, I assure you… you will find most of the middle size and small landlords will approve you anyway. The huge corporations are a bit more difficult. For example, Archstone, RockRose and Glenwood all have luxury style, expensive units. They will most likely not talk to you unless you meet their strict criteria. Other companies such as Pan Am, Jacobson, any individual landlord, RVE Inc, and most medium firms will still at least view your application. I want to stress that all the above is if you have good credit. So the answer to your question is that, yes you will be automatically rejected by the larger firms, but if you have a steady work history and good credit you will easily find an apartment!

You asked “I’m planning to move to Brooklyn or Queens after I graduate from a Master’s program. I will be looking for a job in New York at that time. Will my lack of income/work history make it impossible for me to secure an apartment even if I have the money for first, last and security?

The quick answer to this question, is yes- your lack of income/work history will make it very difficult for you to secure an apartment if you do not have a guarantor. If you had 6 months or even a year to put up (this is highly unrealistic for most people) than it could be more possible. However, landlords want to know that you are a good investment. If you have no consistent work history to speak of and also aren’t making the income brackets to qualify on your own then you need to find a guarantor. I had many new wall street types making a six-figure base as clients and they all needed guarantors. However, most of them wanted the shiny, doorman type building and those buildings tend to have more strict criteria. To be on the safe side I would find a guarantor to back you up, it isn’t worth losing a great apartment because you haven’t been working long enough. Absolute worst case scenario- you will find a smaller landlord or more “chill” landlord who will take you without the work history and income qualifications but you won’t have as many options. BK and Queens are a lot more relaxed than Manhattan so there will be some.

I will be a student when I move to NYC, I don’t have tax returns. What now?

Most people moving to NYC from June-August are students or have just graduated and find themselves in this position. You will need a guarantor. Without a working history or tax returns from a previous year a landlord will not take you. They simply want to know how you will pay for it. A guarantor can be anyone of close relation and some landlords will let you use a family friend. Please see more about guarantors in question #20.

What happens when you don’t pay rent?

I will check with my resident attorney on this one. Other than eviction and being sued I am not completely sure of the process. Check back in a few days for a more clear answer.

Can I rent an apartment with bad credit?

Please check back to the answer for # 22.

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