Fresh to the NYC Apartment Hunt? Here is the Need-to-Know

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Allia Mohamed, co-founder and CEO of openigloo

Many New York City renters would describe apartment-hunting as a stress-inducing process. Unpredictable rents, bidding-wars, and invasive application requests can make an already stressful situation even worse.

The urgency to sign a lease due to surrounding competition can exacerbate the pressure further. However, arming oneself with the correct knowledge before signing the dotted line is one way to alleviate some of remorse that comes with apartment-hunting in the city. While the following suggestions aren’t exhaustive, they could help protect one from getting locked into a bad apartment. Here is what to know and look out for when researching landlords, properties and NYC housing laws:

‘The Proof is in the Track Record’

Upon compiling a list of NYC apartments for prospecting, check city data to learn about the landlords to gather information about the properties they own and their management history.

You could leverage data from various New York City departments, including the Department of Buildings and Housing Preservation & Development, to discover bedbug complaints, litigation history, or eviction records. Renters can also check platforms like openigloo which organizes all of this data by address.

Hear it From the Tenants Themselves

No one knows what it’s like to live in a building better than the current or previous residents. If you catch someone in the elevator or hallway while touring an apartment, ask them a few questions. Are they renewing? How much did their rent go up? Are the walls well insulated from noise? Reading online reviews about the building and landlord is also critical to getting information you wouldn’t otherwise learn until moving in. On openigloo, tenants are sharing the pros and cons of their buildings. They’re also sharing detailed info about a building’s cleanliness, heat, water pressure, and much more. Renters should also check other properties in the landlord’s portfolio to garner a sense of how they manage their other buildings.

Know Your Rights

There are dozens of New York housing laws to help renters navigate and combat unfair practices. On openigloo, thousands of reviews from NYC renters detail complaints about illegal practices, such as a landlord entering an apartment without notice or charging more than $20 on a rental application. Familiarizing oneself with housing laws, especially regarding security deposits, heat and hot water, maintenance rules, rental increases, late fees, and renter discrimination is essential when apartment hunting.

Read the Lease and Ask Questions

Some leases are dozens of pages, but it’s important to read all the details. While a renter’s instinct may be to rush through this process, it’s a great opportunity to bring up anything they’re unsure about and clarify with the landlord. Additionally, renters should make sure the lease doesn’t have any strange clauses that break housing laws or inconvenience the renter. One renter on openigloo shared that their lease required them to pay for professional cleaning services twice a month. While that’s not necessarily a deal breaker, it’s important to read the lease before signing on the dotted line.

Renting in NYC is a stressful process, but arming oneself with accurate information, tenant reviews, and info on housings rights can make the process less daunting.

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