The NYC Rental Application

I have closed hundreds of rental deals over the years and respect how “crazy” the process may seem, especially to those coming from outside of NYC. Let’s go over the rental application process and hopefully it will make more sense to you by the end of this video.

Applying for an Apartment

When applying for a specific apartment, you will need to fill out an application which differs by landlord and you’ll need to provide certain documents that the landlord requests.

Im going to go over the most typical documents needed for approval and I highly recommend getting these documents together, before actively looking for apartments.


If you find something great, you may want to jump on it quickly and being prepared is the most important thing.

Employment Letter

The centerpiece of your application is a letter of employment.
This must state your salary, position, and length of employment.
If you don’t get paid a salary and work on commission or are self employed, you will need a letter from your accountant stating the same thing.

Tax Returns

Next are tax returns. Usually the last 2 years and only the first two pages.
Many people have tax returns that show less than their current income, as they earn more now than they used to.
For example, if your previous returns show 45k and now you earn 100k, the landlord should go by the current 100k, so don’t worry.
However, if you’re self employed and don’t have a salary, they will go by your last year or twos tax returns since thats the only thing they have to go by. It can be more difficult, but an experienced real estate broker like myself can help figure that out.

Bank Statements

Then theres your most recent bank statement. Typically you only need the most recent one, but usually they want both checking and savings. It doesn’t hurt to include investment accounts if you want to look better on paper, but it’s not usually necessary.
There isn’t a set amount that you need to have in the bank, but it doesn’t look great if you’re tapped out.

Pay Stubs

Next is Your last 2 or 3 consecutive pay stubs. Again, if you are self employed, you may not have these so they are ok to negate if thats the case.

Photo ID

Photo ID. This one needs no explanation.

Credit Check

The landlord or broker will run your credit and they will typically run a search that includes landlord/tenant screening.
Hopefully you haven’t been in housing court before, but that’s another conversation entirely.
Your actual CREDIT SCORE matters to some landlords, but there isn’t a specific number that they all go by.
When I review credit, I think its more important to see WHY the score is what it is, instead of just going by the number alone.
If your credit has issues, the landlord may be willing to work with you but will likely ask for a larger security deposit.
Credit is VERY important and if my clients have issues with their credit, I recommend running a full screening to see exactly what those issues are and if any of them can be taken care of beforehand.

Guarantors & Other Options

If you do not qualify by earning 40x the monthly rent, you can usually have a co-signer or “Guarantor”
This is usually a parent or relative who will assume responsibility in the event that you cannot pay your rent.
The guarantor usually needs to show around 80x the monthly rent to qualify, because they need to be able to take care of themselves
AND your rent, in the event you cannot pay.
Typically guarantors will need to produce the same documents as tenants, as well as fill out an application and have their credit run.
They will also need to sign the lease and/or a guarantor rider that gets attached to the lease.

Keep in mind that guarantors are typically used when the tenant does not earn 40x the monthly rent.
They may not help if you have severe credit issues, since landlord don’t want to have to resort to going after a guarantor and bad credit is a big red flag.
Landlords also do not always want to work with out of state guarantors, who may be more difficult for them to go after.

If you do not qualify AND cannot produce a guarantor, there may be some other options.
Landlords may take a large security deposit in lieu of a guarantor or the entire years rent paid in full at the lease signing.
This may be the case if you are a college student whose parents live in another country
You cannot have an overseas guarantor, because if you don’t pay, the landlord cannot go after them.

If you do use a guarantor, you the tenant will likely be required to provide a letter of employment or if you are a student, a letter of enrollment.
This is so the landlord knows there is a real person in the apartment who is a productive member of society.


So definitely get all of your documents in order prior to your search. It can get very competitive and you may need to jump on something, so its always best to be prepared.
Assuming you are working with a good real estate broker, they can go over your paperwork beforehand and match you up with landlords that will likely approve you. Especially if your application is less than perfect or atypical.

As always, feel free to reach out if you would like any advice or if you would like to continue this conversation.

That’s it for now
I’m Scott Rubin, your New York City Real Estate Broker
Thanks for reading!

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Scott Rubin
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
110 Fifth Ave, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10011
(646) 637-6377
[email protected]