Off Campus Housing
Our residence halls are a great place to build community and make New York your home. But when you’re ready to move on, these tips can help you make the transition to off-campus housing.
How to Get Started
If you have the time, walk around the different neighborhoods of the city. This will help you get acquainted with the areas of the city you like and feel safest in.
The New York City real estate market is very competitive, especially when searching for an affordable apartment or an apartment in a particular area. Once you have found an apartment you like, decisions must be made quickly. It’s best to begin your search no earlier than four weeks before your desired move-in date, as tenants are not usually required to give their landlord more than 30 days notice of their move-out.
Deciding on a Budget
Because New York City has such an in-demand market, housing is very expensive. Rents depend on location, size, and amenities, so it is necessary to decide early which is the most important to you.
Choosing a Roommate
Decide if you want to share an apartment. If you have more than one roommate, decide if you can afford for each person to have a bedroom or if it is more cost-effective for roommates to share bedrooms.
Here are some things to consider when you are choosing a roommate:
- Cleaning habits
- Study habits
- Guest preferences
- Sharing food/clothing/toiletries/personal items
- Other topics that are important to you
Narrowing Your Search
Consider which neighborhoods are most affordable for you to live in. Also consider whether it is more affordable for you to live in another borough. Many boroughs have more affordable apartments in areas where the transit time is only minutes more than areas in Manhattan.
Determine which amenities are most important. Size? Natural light? Neighborhood? Often times, by compromising on one or more of these elements you will be able to find more apartments that are within your price-range.
Here are some things to consider when you are choosing an apartment:
Number of roommates you are willing to have in each bedroom
- Size and layout
- Rent payment
- Common space and number of bathrooms
- Closet space/storage space
- Proximity to transportation
How to Search
For many people, using a broker is the most convenient way to find an apartment. Brokers can be very expensive, but they often have access to apartments that are only listed exclusively through them. Once you have chosen a broker, he or she will find apartments that meet your criteria and arrange appointments for you to see them. Essentially they eliminate much of the stress and hassle of the apartment hunting process, in exchange for a fee. Most brokers charge 12-15% of one year’s rent. This fee is only required at the time of lease signing.
If you can not afford to use a broker in order to find an apartment, there are other resources you may use to aid you in your hunt:
- Classified Ads: look for ads that are listed under “no fee” or “by owner”.
- Landlords and Management Companies: Call management companies directly (their contact information is usually available in the buildings themselves) and ask if they have any vacancies that meet your criteria.
- Online Websites: There are many websites that specialize in no-fee apartments. Some require a fee in order to access the contact information associated with those apartments.
Financial Requirements and Paperwork
Once you have found an apartment there are many steps to complete before you are actually able to secure the apartment. First, you will be required to complete an application for the apartment, which is usually accompanied with an application fee and credit check fee of $50-$200. Sometimes a deposit is required in order to prove to the landlord that you are seriously interested in the apartment. In return, most landlords agree to stop showing the apartment until your application has been processed. This deposit is refunded once you have either been approved or declined for the apartment. Keep in mind however, that if you are approved for the apartment and decide not to take it, you will lose the deposit.
- Most landlords require that prospective tenants make at least 40-45 times the monthly rent in annual salary, or combined salary between you and your roommates.
- If you plan on using a guarantor, most landlords require that the guarantor make at least 75 times the monthly rent. Most landlords are assumed to live in the New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut area. If your parents or other guarantor are not from this area be sure to ask the landlord in advance if they accept a guarantor from outside the tri-state area.
- Once your application has been approved, you should be prepared to pay at least the first month’s rent and the security deposit when you sign the lease, which is only accepted in the form of certified checks or money orders. Sometimes, in order for insurance, landlords will require more than one month’s rent. If you are using a broker, an additional certified check is usually required to pay the broker’s fee at the time of lease signing.
There are many documents that you should have with you or already prepared when you are looking for an apartment. Once you have found an apartment you want, you will need these documents almost immediately:
- A letter from your employer (or your guarantor’s employer) stating your salary and length of employment or from your CPA if you or your guarantor are a freelance worker or business owner
- The first two pages of last year’s tax return
- Most recent bank statement, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers
- Most recent pay stub
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of previous landlords
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of personal and business references
- Photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport
Signing the Lease
Before you sign your lease you should read it very carefully, as it outlines in very specific detail the terms of your agreement. Terms of the lease you should clarify before you sign are:
- When your rent is due
- If pets are allowed
- Who is responsible for maintenance
- Length of the lease
If the landlord agreed to any maintenance or repairs before your move-in date, make sure that these repairs are included in your lease or in a lease rider. If these repairs are not included in the lease, the landlord is not required to fulfill the agreement.
Whether you live on or off campus, Marymount Manhattan College recommends that all students and their families consider renters insurance for protection for both personal property and liability.
In some cases, students may be covered under a parent’s homeowners insurance. Check with your family to consider that option. If you are not covered, renters insurance is a good idea for you.