New York City Real Estate Sales & Rentals

 

Leasing Guide

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INTRODUCTION

With each neighborhood having its own distinctive flavor, let your Spire agent know what’s important to you – being close to a park or work, nightlife, galleries, etc. so we can find your new home in the area you love most. Additionally, we need to know your budget, size of apt, type of building and any amenities that are important to you so we can match you with the best apartments that are on the market when we go out.

Our highly seasoned rental agents are available to show you homes in every area, from Soho to the Upper East Side, to Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope.

At Spire, we listen carefully to your needs, review the options and then show you the best of what’s out there. As time is always of the essence in this high-demand market, we prepare you well and ahead of time to make sure you don’t miss out on a dream opportunity because your paperwork wasn’t right, or because you couldn’t get to the bank in time to access money to secure the apartment.

TIMELINE FOR RENTING

The best time to start looking for a rental apartment (in a rental building vs a co-op or condo) is 4-6 weeks before your desired move-in date. Keep in mind that summer is the most competitive season for apartments with many apartments renting the same day they come on the market so being prepared with all of your paperwork and having all decision makers on the appointment are key in getting the apartment you love.

BUILDING TYPES

Building ownership is classified into three categories: rentals, condominiums and co-operatives. Each has different tenant requirements, approval processes and timeframes for approval. It is important for you to know the differences between the three as it would affect the parameters and timing of your ability to move in.

Rental Buildings The landlord owns the entire building. Tenants are typically required to earn approximately 40-50 times the monthly rent in guaranteed income. Liquid assets are taken into account. A pattern of bonuses in the past years, if verifiable, may be helpful. If you do not qualify according to this formula, some landlords may accept a guarantor to co-sign your lease. The approval process can take 1-7 days based on the landlord’s review of your financials. If you meet the landlord’s qualifications, payment of one month’s rent and a refundable one month’s security deposit is standard.

Condominiums (Condo’s) Apartments are owned by individuals for residential and/or investment purposes. Within condo guidelines, owners are free to establish terms such as rent and length of lease. The approval process can take 10-30 days based on a credit check and individual owner’s requirements. Expect application fees and move-in fees. Security deposit may exceed one month’s rent.

Cooperatives (Co-op’s) Buildings are structured as a corporation. Rather than owning an apartment outright, individuals own shares according to the size and value of their unit. There are many restrictions on the rentals of co-ops regarding length of lease, roommates, etc. The approval process can take 30-45 days. Prospective tenants must submit extensive personal and financial information, and interview with the Co-op board. Expect large application fees and move-in fees ($150+). Security deposit may exceed one month’s rent. Co-ops can often be problematic for international clients or new hires without an established credit history.

Cooperative (and some Condo) Board Processing A co-op is made up of the individual shareholders (those we usually think of as the apartment owners). The co-op board establishes rules and standards for the building and consists of shareholder/residents who volunteer to help screen prospective tenants and review board packages. Your application and lease package will need to be approved by both the coop board and the building management representatives.

Qualifying A co-op board will need clear cut, specific proof of a prospective tenant’s assets and liabilities. Most tenants are required to earn approximately 40-50 times the monthly rent in guaranteed income. Liquid assets are taken into account. A pattern of bonuses in the past years, if verifiable, may be helpful. If you do not qualify according to this formula, some co-ops may accept a guarantor to co-sign your lease.

Processing Fees Co-ops and condos have processing and move in fee requirements, which can range from a couple of hundred dollars and up. There is usually a refundable move-in deposit used to cover damages, if any, which occur during move-in.

Board Approvals Co-ops are elusive about a specific time period for approval. It can take just a few days to a month or longer, and includes a review of your financials by management and the co-op board as well as a board interview. You should plan on waiting the maximum time suggested by the management and board. The time period begins when all documents required are fully executed, submitted and completed to their satisfaction. If you omit requested information, this will only delay your approval process. Do not book movers until you are approved.

WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR APPOINTMENTS / LANDLORD REQUIREMENTS

Items Required From Every Tenant

  1. Completed and signed application
  2. $50-$100 per tenant for credit check (cash or check payable to Spire, Inc. or landlord, non-refundable)
  3. Employment letter/offer letter on company letterhead, signed by manager or supervisor stating:
    1. Annual salary
    2. Position/title
    3. Length of employment (start date)
    4. Guaranteed bonuses (if any)
  4. Your two most recent pay stubs
  5. Your two most recent bank or brokerage statements

Items Required From Every Guarantor

  1. Completed and signed application
  2. $50-$100 per guarantor for credit check (cash or check payable to Spire, Inc. or landlord, non-refundable
  3. Verification of income (typically one of the below is sufficient):
    1. Tax returns from last two years (front page and signature page only)
    2. Letter from your CPA (accountant) verifying past years’ income and projected current year
    3. Employment letter/offer letter on company letterhead, signed by manager or supervisor stating:
      1. Annual salary
      2. Position/title
      3. Length of employment (start date)
      4. Guaranteed bonuses (if any)

Items Required At Lease Signing

  1. Certified Check, Bank Check, or Money Order as payment for 1st month’s rent and 1 month security deposit payable to landlord.
  2. Certified Check, Bank Check, or Money Order as payment for brokers’ fee payable to Spire Group.

Standard Requirements:

 

  • Approximate costs of Application Process: (credit reports/application fee) – Both applicants and guarantors are required to submit credit reports, no exceptions.
  • Credit reports and application fees range from $25 to $100 depending on landlord/management company.
  • Lease signing requirements: Once all completed application materials have been submitted, Spire Group Inc. can usually get our clients approved for their apartment or rental property that same day.
  • Almost all applications are approved within 1-2 business days.
  • Renter must have completed all application materials. This includes reference letters and supporting documentation.
  • Approved clients are expected to sign lease immediately and provide necessary funds. Lease signings take place within 24 hours of application approval.
  • Renters sign their lease and provide necessary funds regardless of when the lease starts.
    • Funds: Renters generally provide 1st month’s rent and equivalent of 1 month’s rent as a security deposit.
    • This money is fully refundable in case a client gets rejected.
    • When paying the deposit ask for a receipt that states, the money will be refunded if you are rejected.
    • When signing a lease, renters should have funds for rent, security and broker fee (if any).
    • Money should be in a certified form Bank Checks: Certified checks or Money orders.
    • Personal checks are not accepted.
  • Miscellaneous Fees:
    • Sometimes landlords/management companies require new tenants to pay a move in deposit.
    • This fee can range from $250 – $600.
    • Move in fees are usually refundable as long as there is no damage done to a building while moving.
    • Some landlords/management companies require renters insurance.
    • When renting in a condominium or in a co-op, renters should expect processing fees, move in fees and other miscellaneous fees sometimes in total of $250 – $1100 in non-refundable fees.
    • Be sure to ask your Spire Group Inc. broker if there are additional fees; especially if renting a Condo or Co-Op. Fees for pets or for temporary walls are also common.
  • A general price guideline for apartments:
    • Studios range from $1,800 to $2,500 per month
    • One bedrooms range from $2,200 to $3,700 per month
    • Two bedrooms range from $3,500 to $6,500 per month
    • Three bedrooms range from $4,500 to $10,000 per month.

 

The Budget: For obvious reasons, a budget is an important factor in determining what apartment or rental property a renter can afford. The price of a property depends on a variety of factors – size, location, condition, features, neighborhood amenities, schools among others. It is key to determine a budget at the beginning of the application process to have an understanding of what you can afford.

General Approval Requirements

Approval Requirements differ depending on the landlord/management company and/or on the building. The following are general guidelines that apply in most instances:

If you think your credit report is bad, advise your Spire Group Inc. broker so they can prepare you for the application process. Landlords/management companies have different ways of dealing with credit problems.

Some landlords/management companies allow renters to increase security deposit while others require a guarantor. Some may simply reject the application. Your Spire Group Inc. broker will advise you in order to save you time, money and frustration.

  • Renters need to show income of at least 40-50 times monthly rent.
  • Rent should be 25% of renters’ annual income. Ex: annual income = $100,000, rent $25,000 per year.
  • Renters must show a secure and stable employment history.
  • Renters needs to have good credit history. A major component of the approval process is based on the credit report.
  • What makes a credit report bad?
    • A couple old late payments are usually ok.
    • High revolving balances are not good.
    • Past due payments that are outstanding are bad.
    • Delinquencies and collections are very bad.
    • A public record (a day in court) is bad
    • A Landlord-Tenant record is very bad.
  • Renters must show a good rental history.
  • Rental, credit and employment information is generally referenced and submitted in form of a letter or sometimes by a phone call.
  • Renters need to have a social security number. If you do not have a social security number or are not applying for one you must have a guarantor co-signing your lease.
  • Bank Statements: In most cases landlords/management companies require copies of a renters’ 3 most recent bank statements from a checking, savings, stock account or any other financial institution.
  • Renter should have backup detail sheets available upon request.
  • Most rent application forms require listing bank account information.
  • Letter of Employment: Renter should get a Letter of Employment on their company’s letterhead, with the following:
    • Position
    • Length of employment
    • Annual income.
  • In majority of cases an offer or an acceptance letter for a new position is not sufficient to show employment.
  • Letter of Landlord Reference: Letter of reference from a previous landlord is one of the most important reference letters a renter can submit to a landlord/management company who is processing their application.
  • Pay Stubs: copies of renters’ 3 most recent pay stubs are usually required.
  • Students need to have a guarantor co-sign their lease.
  • Certain buildings won’t accept students. This is legal in NY State and not challengeable in a court or law.
  • Tax Returns: Some landlords and some management companies require potential renters to include a copy of their most recent Federal Tax Return (1040).
    • Renters should have their tax return available just in case it is required.
    • Self-employed renters: if income comes from different sources, you will be required to submit tax returns and a letter from a CPA stating the nature of your business, as well as, projected future income.
    • Business owners looking to rent are almost always required to submit a tax return.
  • If renters do not meet the above mentioned criteria there are usually two possible solutions:
  • Renters can get a co-signer or guarantor to co-sign the lease for you.
  • Some owners will allow tenants to prepay 6 months to 12 months rent up front.
  • Guarantor or co-signer: A guarantor or co-signer is a person who guarantees the entire rent for the entire lease term and lease renewals should a renter default on their rent payments. A guarantor can be anyone who agrees to sign on behalf of a renter and who is willing qualified to act as a guarantor.
  • Qualifications of a guarantor or co-signer: documents required from a guarantor are similar to applicant(s):
    • Application Form: Same form as the applicant fills out.
    • Credit Report: A guarantor’s credit report must be in good standing.
    • Federal Tax Returns: A guarantor is required to submit federal tax returns as proof of income.
    • Guarantor must show annual income of 80-100 times monthly rent.
    • A Guarantor is not required to be present at lease signing.
    • In some cases, landlords/management companies require a guarantor to reside in the tri- state area (New York, New Jersey or Connecticut).
  • Typical Questions Answered

    How much is Spire Group Inc.‘s broker fee?
    Spire Group Inc. does not charge for information provided by the website nor do we charge for viewing of apartments or rental properties with through our brokers. Clients pay a broker’s fee ONLY if they rent a property through Spire Group Inc.. If the property is a NO FEE apartment in which case you will not incur brokers fee.

    • Unfurnished apartments: With a 1-2 year lease, Spire Group Inc. usually charges 15% of annual rent.
    • Furnished/Short Term rental fees: Please call or email for our discount pricing.

    When should a perspective renter begin an apartment or property rental search?
    Potential renters should begin their search 4-6 weeks prior to an anticipated moving date. Apartments are not usually ready more than 6 weeks ahead of a lease starting date.

    What are Rent Stabilized buildings and/or apartments?
    Rent stabilized buildings and/or apartments are buildings whose rent is regulated by the City of New York and State of New York. Rent increases are only about 2-4% annually. Once a renter secures a rent stabilized apartment, they have a right to renew a lease agreement indefinitely. A lot of brownstones, townhouses with more than 4 units and older tenement/elevator buildings in NYC fall into this category. These types of building are owned and operated by small to medium size landlords/management companies.

    How much is Spire Group Inc.‘s broker fee?
    Spire Group Inc. does not charge for information provided by the website nor do we charge for viewing of apartments or rental properties with through our brokers. Clients pay a broker’s fee ONLY if they rent a property through Spire Group Inc..

     

    • Unfurnished apartments: With a 1-2 year lease, Spire Group Inc. charges ____% of annual rent.
    • Furnished/Short Term rental fees: ___.
    • A sizable amount of our listings are made of “No Fee” apartments.

    Why choose Spire Group Inc.? What sets it apart from all the others?

     

    Prospective renters seek out Spire Group Inc. Realty’s service for 2 reasons:

     

    First, our clients want to find the best deals coupled with the most value they can afford. They understand Spire Group Inc.’s brokers will save them considerable money in the long run. They understand that we offer a variety of services, covering all aspects of their property search. Our clients understand that even though they might be able to find ‘No Fee’ apartments, our brokers work extremely hard to negotiate the lowest possible monthly-rent payments. This amounts to long term savings that renters who don’t use Spire Group Inc. probably would not get.

    Second, our clients want to save the time and energy that gets wasted when trying to find and close on a property in NYC’s dynamic real estate market. The process can be very frustrating without much result. Our clients come to us in order to utilize the guidance, knowledge and experience of our licensed brokers. Our management team brings over 50 years of combined NYC real estate excellence to the table. Our clients benefit by saving money, time and effort.
    What does ‘No Fee’ mean?
    A lot of the apartments prospective renters see listed as ‘No Fee’ via the internet or advertised in newspapers actually use a flat fee agency. Prospective renters cannot get information about these properties without first paying a flat fee to these agencies. The fee is supposed to give the renter access to the agency’s database. Fees can range from $50-$250, even though these agencies are not legally allowed to charge more than $15 for their services. Very few agency subscribers rent their apartments this way. A lot these agencies provide almost no support service to clients. They have little or no staff and they operate basically as internet-information agencies. Therefore they cannot possibly provide the expertise of a licensed broker. Be wary of information obtained in this manner as the information tends to be unreliable and outdated.
    How can I find a “No Fee” apartment?

     

    Sometimes landlords/management companies or brokers offer rental properties or apartments for ‘No fee’ (meaning no broker fees or rental application fees). These ‘deals’ tend toward being some of the most expensive apartments on the market. Most ‘No Fee’ apartments are found in high-rise, doorman buildings or newly constructed buildings. Generally ‘No fees’ are offered because of the sheer size of a building. These apartments are priced fairly and not great deals but they are not bad ones either. Sometime Spire Group Inc. represents certain landlords/management companies or buildings that offer ‘No Fee’ apartments. These tend to be in luxury/doorman buildings and are priced at $2000 per month and up. In this instance the fees are paid by the landlord/management company. In this case Spire Group Inc. passes on the savings to clients and provides all our services to you free of charge. Not all ‘No fee’ properties are found in doorman buildings. Sometimes landlords/management companies of elevator or walk up buildings will advertise apartments as ‘No Fee’ on the web or in newspapers. Generally these apartments are not good deals because landlords avoid additional costs and charge the tenant higher monthly payments. Fairly priced properties with a broker’s fee would probably cost LESS money than a ‘No Fee’ apartment in an elevator or walk up building.
    Is having a pet a problem?

     

     

    Having a dog narrows the selection of properties down to 15% of what is currently available on the market. Cats tend not to be as much of a problem. Clients tell your broker about pets to save time and money.
    Besides rent stabilized buildings, what other types of apartment buildings are there in NYC?

     

     

    There are rental buildings, co-ops, and condo buildings.

     

    • Rental buildings: Usually full service, modern, doorman buildings; rents are generally high but are at market level. Annual rent increases might be considerable, depending on market conditions. These buildings are managed by big corporations trying to maximize profit. Spire Group Inc. has access to these listings as well as more affordable more economically priced rental properties. We have access to most of the rental listings in the New York City Area.
    • Co-op and condo buildings: These are also usually full service buildings. Units are owned by individual owners who are not very familiar with market conditions. It possible to get good deals in co-ops or a condo building. The drawback is that new tenants might have to meet with the co-op or condo board. This process can take over a month and requires the applicant to undergo rigorous screening. Many co-ops do not allow lease renewals. This means more apartment hunting after the first term of your lease. Spire Group Inc. is selective about co-op buildings because of the inflexibility and arbitrary rules.

 

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