Manhattan Apartment Rental Checklist

What you need to know before you sign a lease

East 28th Street Apartments
Mr.TinDC/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

With New York City apartment rentals, looks can sometimes be deceiving. Before you sign over that check for the first and last months rent, it's important to take the time to make a quick inspection.

Don’t let an aggressive real estate agent convince you to commit before you’ve done your research. Remember, you’ll be spending a lot of time in this apartment, not to mention potentially shelling out well over a third of your salary on the rent.

This apartment inspection checklist will help guide you as you evaluate apartments and decide on your new home.

The Apartment

  • Is the rent reasonable? Make sure you've seen other apartments in the same price range (or at least perused listings and talked to people to understand current rental trends). If it's the first apartment you've seen, think hard before committing unless you really love the place. If you're new to the NYC apartment rental game, bring a savvy friend with you to provide some objective advice.
  • Is the apartment clean and freshly painted? If the landlord is promising to paint or renovate before you move in, exactly what will be done? Get it in writing.
  • Are the kitchen appliances clean and in working order? Test the refrigerator, stove, and other appliances to make sure everything’s in working order.
  • Is there enough cupboard and counter space in the kitchen?
  • Are there any signs of roaches or rodents? Look under the sink and around cracks and crevices.
  • Do the windows open and close properly?
  • Are there enough electrical outlets? Test the electrical outlets to make sure they all work.
  • Are there enough closets and are they large enough?
  • Can you live with the view and the amount of light in the apartment?
  • Do the bathroom fixtures work? Are there any leaks?
  • Are there any rules against painting or making other modifications to the space? If you’'re thinking about remodeling or redecorating, make sure there are no rules that prevent you (or your landlord may take it out of your security deposit).
  • Is there excessive street noise or noise from nearby apartments?
  • Is the apartment cable-ready? Make sure the apartment is wired to support your cable TV or high-speed Internet habits.

The Building and the Neighborhood

  • Are pets allowed? If you have a pet, make sure there are no restrictions.
  • How close is public transportation? Calculate how easy it would be to get to work or other frequent destinations. If your commute will be long and complicated, you better love that apartment a LOT.
  • Is the neighborhood safe? Will you feel comfortable walking home alone at night?
  • Is there a laundry room in the building or nearby?
  • Is there outdoor space available (roof, garden, terrace)?
  • Does the neighborhood provide all of the daily conveniences within easy access? Locate the closest grocery stores, gyms, dry cleaners, pharmacies, banks, etc.
  • Is there a live-in superintendent? Does he maintain the building well and respond quickly when repairs are needed? Ask a current resident if possible (just corner someone in the lobby or elevator).
  • Is there a doorman? What type of security is offered (i.e. security cameras, number and strength of locks, etc.)
  • Is the building managed responsibly? Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no complaints against building management.
  • Is the building in good repair? Look for signs of disrepair or shabbiness in the public spaces.
  • If you have a car, is there convenient parking nearby?
  • Do you like the feel of the neighborhood? Do you feel comfortable there?
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