Apatment Hunting Prep List

by Laurence Rosenberg of RDNY.com


Renting an Apartment

So now you have a source of no fee rental listings, a good guide for information on renting, and you’ve decided on your budget. What’s next?

It’s time to contact the landlords of your listings and set up an appointment to see the apartments. Whatever your source of listings, they should all contain information on how you can view the apartments. When you go to inspect the apartments, you will need to be properly prepared.

There is no substitute for being properly prepared with all of your paperwork and documentation when you go to see an apartment. When you see the right apartment, you have to move very quickly or you will surely lose the apartment to another interested renter. Look at it this way, if you see an apartment you like at the right price, then someone else (probably many others) will also think the apartment is attractive and properly priced. If you’re not ready to jump on it, someone else will.

But what does “all your paperwork and documentation” mean?

We recommend that you should come armed to apartment viewings with all your information put together as a package. Make several copies of your application package, as you might see more than one apartment you’re interested in applying for. Remember, being a landlord is a business. Landlords are more likely to want to work with and rent to people who understand the need to approach their apartment search in a proper business-like manner.



You will need to prove your employment and income, which you can do with a very recent year-to-date pay stub or copy of our latest tax return if your self-employed. If you have a roommate, make sure you have all of your roommates employment and financial data as well.


  • If you’re self employed

You’ll want to get a letter from your accountant attesting to your income and growth of your business. Do this ahead of time and have the letter (or copy) ready when you go looking at apartments. Click here to see some sample letters.


  • If you need a guarantor

Have all of your guarantor’s (also known as a co-signer) information on hand, including address, social security number, and proof of income. Click here for more information on guarantors. If you are reluctant to use a family member as a guarantor, you can use a corporate guarantor. If this is your best option, you should look intoInsurent.com.



I can’t stress the importance of this step enough.

The landlord’s application form is asking about factual information, such a your name, address, social security number, place of employment, income, etc. But it doesn’t tell the landlord much about you.

Think about how many things aren’t asked on an application form that can show the landlord you are a person of good character, exceptional skill, great talent, vision, and community concern. Your cover letter is a fine place to impress the landlord that you’re a decent, upstanding citizen who understands that you have a legal and moral obligation to respect the landlord’s property and pay the rent on time. Trust me, this will go a long way towards having a landlord select YOU as the next tenant.

Think of this cover letter as the right place to get an edge on the competition for this apartment. Broker’s merely present the application to the landlord. You can impress the landlord, particularly if you are young and early in your career. After all, if the landlord has a choice between you and another applicant, but all he knows about the other applicant is what’s on the application form, you will have the edge.

For example: if you can honestly say to the landlord that you’re a volunteer for certain community groups or a volunteer in a school or hospital, the landlord is going to know that you are a highly responsible young person.

If you talk about your advanced schooling, the landlord will infer that your career is certain to move upward. If you talk about any awards you’ve won from schools or community groups, the landlord will once again know that you are highly responsible and highly respected. In short, a well written cover letter will be an introduction to who you are as a person. It’s your chance to put your best foot forward.

Your cover letter will be even more important if you have credit problems or some other problem. Read more about how a cover letter can help you here.



You’ll want to have an application for filled out with all of your information, your roommates information if any, or your guarantor’s information if you need one. Even if you need to copy over your information on to the landlord’s “approved” application form, I guarantee you that the questions will mostly be the same. So having all the information ready to go will save you time. You can download a generic application form here or here.



Treat everybody as politely as if you were calling for a job interview, because you ARE being interviewed. Landlords want to know that they can entrust their property and housing to you. You might feel awkward the first two to three times you make a call, but if you use your business manners, you’ll be fine. Remember to dress in business casual when you see the landlord. You want to appear to be the mature adult that you really are, right?



When you see the right apartment, don’t hesitate. Don’t say you want to think about it overnight. Just go ahead and apply. If you change your mind tomorrow, you can always back out. But if you don’t apply today, you’ll regret it and it will bother you day after day.

In closing, let me wish you the best of luck in your no fee apartment search.



Laurence Rosenberg is a licensed NYS real estate broker and co-founder of RDNY.com. For the past 21 years, he’s been helping thousands of New Yorkers find and rent the very best no fee apartments. Prior to RDNY, Laurence was president of the boutique Greenwich Village real estate firm of Swift & Watson Realty. He also previously worked as Regional Sales Manager for Time Equities, Inc.



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