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Apartment Searching in NYC (What To Do and What Not To Do)

By A Girl In Nyc - Lifestyle Blog

Make a list of a few non-negotiable (but reasonable) must-haves. These, of course, should be inline with your budget. For example, if you have a $4,500 budget for a one bedroom, but you're looking for 1,200 sq ft of space, plus a private balcony, and two walk-in closets that isn't going to be realistic. When you walk in with a never ending list of requirements, you're going to set yourself up for disappointment.

View the apartment when it's not under construction and there's plenty of sunlight.

The first time we viewed the apartment, it was being renovated and we were told everything would be "brand new." As we entered, there was a strong smell of paint and the workers were using saws and hammers. We took a quick look around and I saw three walk-in closets which sealed the deal for me. Upon leaving, Billy expressed some doubt and said out of every apartment we saw he liked this one the least. I explained that we had so much stuff and this one was a lot bigger than all the others. We were both over spending 8 hours a day searching, so we agreed on it.

Once we found out we were approved, we jumped in the car and drove to Manhattan from Connecticut so we could take a last look around. By the time we arrived, it was night and there wasn't a lot of lighting in the apartment, which put us at a disadvantage. We did another quick look around and then went back to our hotel to sign our lease. Later on, when we saw our place in daylight, things looked a lot different.

This sounds crazy, but examine the walls.

One of the aesthetically displeasing things we missed was how the walls were warped. Where the molding met the ceiling, it looked like a wave and unfortunately this wasn't in just one area; it was throughout our apartment. A few other things we didn't notice until after our lease was signed was the horrible paint job. Our radiator knobs, peep hole, door handles, and window frames were all painted over or had splattered paint covering them. Had we spent more time in there with better lighting, we wouldn't have missed these things.

Ask if there's a garbage disposal.

Every apartment I rented in Los Angeles came equipped with a garbage disposal, so I assumed this apartment wouldn't be any different. After we moved in, I discovered that not only did we not have one, but that they're actually rare in New York City apartments . This wasn't a big deal, but for someone who loves to cook and was accustomed to having one, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Research your prospective landlord and/or management company.

New York City has really good landlords but also some terrible ones. Before we signed our lease, I wish I knew about JustFixNYX, 311, DOB, and HPD. Had I done a little research, I wouldn't have chosen that apartment.

JustFixNYC : Start by entering the address you want information on. From there, you can research your landlord and see if they have any complaints about them. It will then take you to third party sites like HPD and DOB, where you can further investigate. You can also protect yourself from eviction, request repairs, and order a rent history to see if your apartment is rent stabilized.

: If you keep complaining to your landlord about a specific issue and they're not addressing it or they're ignoring it, this is where you go to file a complaint. The city will contact your building and ask them to fix the problem within a specific amount of time. When you fill out the complaint, you can do so anonymously or you can leave your name and number. If you choose to do the latter, the city will reach out to you to see if your issue has been resolved.

Housing Preservation & Development (HPD): This is where you can find the apartments building data. You can view the complaint history, which tells you the date of the complaint, the apartment number, the reason for the complaint, and the location. There's also relevant information like any litigation open violations, vacate orders, and bed bug reports.

New York Department of Buildings (DOB): Another useful site where you can get a list of all the job filings and complaints against the building, but this one is more to do with construction and maintenance-related issues. You can view the records, permits, inspections, and violations on plumbing, boilers, elevators, and electrical complaints and/or repairs.

Understand NYC heat laws.

Unlike the lack of a garbage disposal, not having the ability to control the temperature was a big deal. As I sifted through apartment listings, I'd see many that said both the heat and AC were included. I assumed that meant what we had in L.A. (and what we have currently). With both apartments, the management company pays for the heat and AC and the tenants pay for the electricity.

When the building pays and controls the temperature, there are specific laws they're required to follow. Heat season runs from October 1st to May 31st. This means that if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees between 6am - 10pm, then the indoor temperature has to be at least 68 degrees. At night, regardless of the daytime or nighttime temperature, the indoor temperature has to be at least 62 degrees inside.

Unfortunately, we learned all of this the hard way. The entire time we lived in our first NYC apartment, we never put the heat on, yet in the middle of winter it felt like a sauna. It probably didn't help that our apartment was on the 20th floor. The units a few floors below ours were probably cold. I'll never forget watching the snow falling in the middle of January and needing the window AC unit going full blast.

Work with an attentive real estate agent.

Prior to moving to New York, I would walk into a leasing office, meet with the agent, and tour each rental unit. Here, it's done a lot differently. There are some buildings that have onsite leasing, but many will only allow access to real estate agents (especially condos and co-ops). While Billy and I were looking for our first apartment, we met with about 10 different agents. Some were more helpful than others, but in hindsight, we should have stuck with one or maybe two at the most. Why? Because a good real estate agent gets to know you and understands your needs and wants. When you're moving from one to the next, you never form that helpful relationship.

If you're apartment searching in NYC or looking to buy a place, I highly recommend . He does apartment rentals and condo/co-op sales in the New York City area. You can call/text him (323.219.4160), DM him on Billy Noorlag . (Full disclosure, he is my boyfriend, but I'm recommending him based on the amount of repeat customers he has, along with witnessing the amount of attention he gives each.) Billy's an agent at the luxury real estate firm, Nest Seekers International IG, or reach him by email ([email protected] ).

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