NYC Rental Glossary

Here’s a list of terms that might come up as you’re looking for a place to rent in New York City. Don’t let the lingo scare you, it’s not as complicated as it seems!

Alcove studio (ALC)

An “L-Shaped” studio that is larger than a standard boxed shaped studio. The extra alcove is usually used for sleeping. Many people convert these into one bedroom or use a partition to break up the sleeping area.


An outdoor space connected to your apartment that can be private or shared with adjacent neighbors.

Board Package

If you attempt to rent in a condominium or co-op building you have to submit a slew of paperwork known as the “board package” to a board of directors on behalf of the specific landlord you are renting from as opposed to a simple application to a landlord/management company. Standard co-op/condo packages I have worked with can be over 100 pages. It is a pain, but you typically get a better deal because it is such a pain. In co-op deals the board approval tends to be more difficult.

Broker Fee

A broker is someone who shows you apartments and a broker fee is the fee you pay if you rent an apartment they have specifically shown you. You do not pay for the fee unless you rent an apartment through them. Apartments they show can often be apartments you could rent directly on your own or can be “exclusive” apartments where you can only rent the apartment by going through the broker. As a rule, expect to pay about 15% in commissions. “Fifteen percent of what?” you ask. Fifteen percent of your first year’s rent. For example, let’s say that your rent each month is $2,000. That means that you pay $24,000 for your apartment over the course of an entire year. Fifteen percent of $24,000, (That is, 24,000 x .15,) equals $3,600.

Brownstone/Townhouse (BSTN, TWNHSE, TH)

Brownstones are 4-5 level buildings and have typically been converted into separate apartments post World War II. Brownstones tend to be desirable for their unique architecture; fireplaces and “homey” feel. However, standard brownstones tend to lack elevators and other “luxury” type amenities.

From Wikipedia: There are many brownstones throughout numerous New York City neighborhoods, especially in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope, Fort Greene, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn Heights, and Bedford Stuyvesant. The Manhattan neighborhood of the Upper West Side, too, retains many brownstones. New York City brownstones are highly desired, and usually cost several million dollars to purchase.

Building Amenities

What most of you care about! Building amenities are the features on a building that make it more appealing. This typically includes laundry, doorman, roof deck, gym, dry cleaning and free Internet.

Classic 6, 7 or 8

The term ‘classic’ followed by a number (usually starting at six) refers to the number of rooms in an apartment. A ‘classic 6’ would be a two bedroom with a living room, dining room, kitchen and maid’s room.


A co-broke is when two brokers share the standard 15% fee on a listing. Typically one broker has the exclusive on the apartment. This means you have to rent through the broker because the landlord signed an agreement stating this. The 2nd broker is the broker who brings you the renter to this apartment and then they would share the fee.

Convertible/Flex One, Two, Three or Four bedroom

A convertible apartment means in terms of number of rooms it can be increased by adding a pressurized or permanent wall. Converting a studio into a one bedroom, a one bed into a two bed and so on and so forth. Only a fraction of landlords allow you to convert an apartment. You can either “rent” a wall for the year from a “wall building company” (I am not kidding,) which on average is about $1,100-1,500. Or you can pay someone to build a wall for around the same price. However, most management companies are locked into one “Wall Building Company” and you will have no choice but to use that one. Then when you move out of the apartment since the wall is being “rented” it is removed and the next renter has to pay for it to go back up again. I’m certain that your mouth has dropped open. Get used to this kind of thing. It’s New York.

A “real” two bedroom apartment (which, as noted by the word “real,” actually has two bedrooms) can run over $4,000, while a convertible 2 bedroom in the same building, all things being equal, would probably then be priced around $2,800. Most of the people I know who live in Manhattan live in convertible 2 bedrooms, 3 bedrooms, or 4 bedrooms. This is pretty much the norm. With that said, building “walls” is a huge business in New York.

Condominium (CONDO)

Wikipedia ( )”A condominium, or condo, is the form of housing tenure and other real property where a specified part of a piece of real estate (usually of an apartment house) is individually owned while use of and access to common facilities in the piece such as hallways, heating system, elevators, exterior areas is executed under legal rights associated with the individual ownership and controlled by the association of owners that jointly represent ownership of the whole piece.” Condos are usually individually owned and the building managed by a property manager. The landlord picks the renter they want to submit to the board of the building for approval and can usually only do this once a month. If you are denied they lose out on rent. You have to submit a board package for approval.

Co-operatives (Co-op)

A CO-OP also known as a Housing Co-operative is a corporation that owns your building. People who own in a “Co-op” are called SHAREHOLDERS, same as shareholders of stock in a publicly traded corporation. Each shareholder owns a specific amount of shares that correlates to their apartment. Everyone who owns shares in the Co-op are subject to an occupancy agreement which is known as a Proprietary Lease. Owners also own the common elements of the building. Again, the landlord picks the renter they want to submit to the board of the building for approval and can usually only do this once a month. If they are denied they lose out on rent until they can submit the next applicant. This is much more difficult in a co-op then condo building because the boards are much stricter.

A useful article from about co-ops vs regular rentals.


An apartment with two levels.


EIK Stands for Eat In Kitchen, a popular apartment feature.

Elevator Building (ELEV BLDG)

Building that has an elevator, typically laundry but no doorman.

Exclusive listing

A broker has an exclusive listing when the landlord signs an agreement stating that they have the only rights to renting out the apartment. These are typically condo/co-op small rentals where the owner cant be bothered to market and find a credible applicant. A co-broke happens when another broker brings the potential renter to the broker who has the exclusive on the unit and they split the fee.


An apartment that runs from the front of a building to the rear wall, occupying an entire floor. Usually found in brownstones and townhouses.

Guarantor (or co-signor)

A guarantor is someone who is legally responsible for your payment of rent if you default on your rent payment. Most management companies or individual owners want your guarantor to be related to you, usually in the immediate family, so that in the event of a default, they will more easily be able to collect. There are always exceptions. Your guarantor will be subject to the intense scrutiny of any rental applicant, and will be required to be on the lease. They will need the same paperwork as you would listed above in question 17. Please keep in mind they will need an additional credit check and application fee for your guarantor.

If you don’t have a guarantor and don’t qualify on your own there is a new solution called Insurent Lease Guaranty. Please read here for more information.


A bathroom with no bath/shower.

Junior 4 (JR4)

It is a one bedroom apartment that has an extra alcove that can be converted into a 2 bedroom or is typically used as a dining area. This is like an alcove studio with a bedroom.


From Wikipedia – A lease is a contract calling for the lessee (user) to pay the lessor (owner) for use of an asset.[1] A rental agreement is a lease in which the asset is tangible property.[2]

Loft (LFT, LOFT)

From Wikipedia – “Loft apartments are apartments that are generally built from former industrial buildings. When industrial developments are developed into condominiums instead of apartments, they may be called loft condominiums. Originally popular with artists, they are now highly sought-after by other bohemians, and the gentrification of the former manufacturing sectors of medium to large cities is now a familiar pattern.” Lofts tend to be pricey and are large open spaces usually over 1000 sq ft that can be converted into multiple bedrooms if the landlord permits. Can often be found in SOHO , Williamsburg and the Meatpacking district.

Luxury high rise

A term used for the style of building found in New York City that has a ton of amenities. This includes a doorman/concierge, laundry, stainless steel appliances and often a roof deck, gym and other “luxuries.”

Murphy bed

A bed that is built into the wall of an apartment and can be lifted up to make room. Often found in the smaller apartments/studios in New York City.

Open Kitchen/Pass through kitchen

A kitchen that is commonly part of the living area or has a small divider that is open to the living area.


The top floor in a luxury high rise building.


From Wikipedia – A pied-à-terre (French, “foot on the ground”) is a small living unit usually located in a large city some distance away from an individual’s primary residence. It may be an apartment or condominium.

The term pied-à-terre implies usage as a temporary second residence, either for part of the year or part of the work week, by a person of some means.

Many co-op buildings in New York City prohibit pieds-à-terre because they want full-time residents.[2]

Post War Building

Buildings created post World War II. These buildings tend to have larger layouts and more amenities then pre-war.

Pre War Building

Buildings built before World War II. They are usually walk-up but can have an elevator/doormen but the architecture is unique with higher ceilings.

Pressurized Wall

As discussed in the definition of “convertible” apartment they are temporary walls built to divide an apartment space creating more bedrooms. They are usually taken down after the renter leaves and the next renter has to pay to put it back up. Pressurized walls leave fewer markings on the floor and ceiling than a permanent wall. To find a pressurized wall company search here.

Rent Stabilization

Established in New York City in the late 1960’s, its mandate was to set limits on the monthly rental increases building owners could charge for vacant apartments and renewal leases. It also set guidelines of performance for both landlord and tenant. In stabilized buildings, rent increases typically range from 3%-5%. Tenants are guaranteed the automatic right to renew their leases provided they have fulfilled the terms and conditions of the lease.

Rent Control & Rent Stabilization

I could never explain this clearly so I will let Wikipedia do it for me: “Rent control refers to laws or ordinances that set price controls on the renting of residential housing. It functions as a price ceiling. New York State has had the longest history of rent controls, since 1943. (Although only 51 communities currently participate in the state’s program, New York City is one of them, and contains the vast majority of units covered by that program.) The period has been marked by the lack of an “adequate supply of decent… housing”.[3] The worsening in the rental market led to the enactment of the Rent Stabilization Law of 1969, which aimed to help increase the number of places put up for rent. The current system is very complicated, which is especially troublesome as most of the protected renters are elderly,[4] and understanding the city’s complex rent-control regulations is difficult even for experienced lawyers.” See if Wikipedia finds it hard to explain it must be. BOTTOM LINE: If you can get your hands on a rent controlled/stabilized apartment, power to you.

Renters Insurance

YOU NEED THIS. It is affordable and protects your assets if anything happens in the apartment whether robbery or a pipe bursting. For more information read this article.

Security Deposit

What you give to the landlord in case you damage anything in the apartment while you live there. It is given at the lease signing and is typically one months rent. If you are an “undesirable” candidate with a poor work history, credit etc… then they can increase this upwards of even 6 months. I will repeat here again why you should learn about what Insurent Lease Guaranty is! Learn more here.


An apartment with only one or two rooms. Common in NYC because of pricing for space!


A possible opportunity, that’s what a sublet is. But, technically speaking, a sublet is when you lease an apartment from someone else who is already leasing it. Simply put, you rent from another renter. Why would someone rent an apartment and then re-rent it to you? Probably because that person need to get out of the apartment, and that could be for a variety of reasons: he or she has rented a bigger or a nicer place, the person bought a home, he or she is moving out of town, etc. In these instances, you might be able to negotiate a significantly lower rent with the individual, because that person most likely needs to move, and like you, he or she most likely can’t, or at the very least, doesn’t want to, pay two rents. So, if that person can recoup a portion of the rent (or all of it), that would be a great deal for all involved. The desperation of another person translates to significant savings for you.

Super, or Superintendent

Love thy super. This is one of the most important people in your life while living in NYC. Tip this person before you even move in so they like you. They will be there for you when that pipe bursts, window breaks, AC unit falls and bathroom leaks. Be kind. Be thankful.

Triplex (TRPLX)

An apartment with three levels.

Walk up building (WLK-UP BLDG)

Any building that doesn’t have an elevator. Better pricing especially for those fifth and sixth floor walk ups. Usually pre-war and brownstone construction.

Winged Apartment

It is an apartment where you typically walk into the living room from the door and to the right is a small room and to the left is a small room with the kitchen and bathroom in the center with the very small living room or eat-in-kitchen that is also used for a living room. People claim these to be 2 bedroom apartments but they are better used as one.