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Guidelines to tenants’ responsibilities

a yellow signboard with ''for rent'' message

Many people start their NYC adventure as tenants in micro apartments

Moving to NYC is like no other experience. The Big Apple is famous for being one of the toughest places to live in. Even if homeownership is out of reach for many people, many people decide to pursue their dreams in the city that never sleeps. Due to a high demand there are lots of challenges for NYC tenants.

Whether you end up renting in Manhattan or in some of the outer boroughs, chances are that you will struggle to find an apartment that meets your requirements.

Picking the right neighborhood in terms of safety, accessibility and amenities is a good starting point for each NYC renter. It’s highly advisable to balance your expectations and know exactly what you want out of your move.

In spite of all difficulties, don’t be discouraged by the fast-moving and expensive real estate market in NYC. Chances are you cannot navigate through it on your own, so do not hesitate to enlist a real estate agent to help you. It’s an additional cost that turns out to be worthwhile eventually.

Many first-time renters brace themselves for small yet expensive apartments when embarking on the ruthless apartment hunting process. As a first-time renter you may not be aware of the tenants’ rights and responsibilities. Hopefully the following pointers will help you familiarize with some general ethical and legal responsibilities you will have to take upon yourself when moving into a rental in order to stay on good terms with your landlord.

How to be a good tenant

Whether you are a newbie renter or an experienced one, you should know that house-hunting process is arguably one of the most challenging aspects of relocating to NYC. But, before panic sets in, take a look at the following considerations.

Affordability issues for prospective tenants

a paper with a pen on it and tenants' savings and house model

Guarantors are legally responsible for paying your rent if you incur financial difficulties

When looking for a place to call home, make sure you are able to pay your rent on time each month. Also, before settling for a particular apartment, make sure you financially qualify for it. Aside from the first month rent, plan for saving for the security deposit and paying the last month rent for your previous apartment. Landlords typically expect tenants to have an annual income that is at least 40 times the monthly rent.

When it comes to choosing a perfect tenant, the decision comes down to the renters’ financial records. Tenants’ personality does count, but their credit score may make or break a deal with the landlord. But what happens if your credit score doesn’t meet your landlord’s requirements and you don’t make at least 40 times the monthly rent?

If you are not an eligible tenant according to the landlord’s criteria, you may want to involve a co-signer. A guarantor is usually a family member or a close friend who is financially liable to sign a contract for you. From the moment they sign a lease, guarantors are responsible for any missed rent.

Aside from a high credit score, guarantors are required to provide:

  • two pay stubs
  • two bank statements
  • letter of employment
  • tax returns

Sharing a living space with a roommate

Due to intimidating living costs in NYC, many young people decide to get a roommate so that they can afford a bigger

a hand giving keys to another hand

Renting in NYC is anything but cheap, but living with a roommate can make it more affordable

apartment in a more desirable neighborhood. Sharing monthly utility bills as well as the monthly rent with a reliable roommate may ease the entire renter’s experience.

Team up with a roommate to overcome the lack of funds and save money on housing costs in NYC. Before the two of you start cohabitating, discuss your lifestyles, habits, expectations and responsibilities.

  1. Are you on the same page in terms of paying the rent and utility bills on time?
  2. How will you split household chores?
  3. How do you go about having friends over?

Tenants complying with the lease requirements

a tenant signing a tenancy agreement

Tenants are expected to stick to the terms of tenancy agreement

According to the landlord-tenant agreement you are running a risk of being evicted if you fail to pay the rent on time or break the lease. It’s highly advisable to read the terms and conditions several times so as to know exactly what your duties and responsibilities are.

Landlords do not tolerate any disruptive behavior or illegal activities on the premises. Also, tenants should be respectful of their neighbors’ space and privacy. Otherwise, they may immediately report any strange or unacceptable behavior to the landlord.

While major maintenance or repair works are up to the landlord, taking care of cleaning and minor fixes are tenants’ responsibility.  So, for the sake of your security deposit, keep your rental clean and tidy.

Tenants’ responsibilities when moving out

Even when you know for sure that you will be moving out of the rental soon, you should comply with the terms of the lease especially since your security deposit is at stake. Luckily landlords are not allowed to withhold deposits without any explanation or at least one valid reason. As long as you follow your lease agreement requirements, your landlord won’t be able to make deductions from the security deposit.

Getting back your security deposit comes down to a couple of common sense actions

a lady holding a box with packing supplies

A clean apartment is a necessary prerequisite for getting your security deposit back

-Communicate your decision to the landlord in writing as soon as the move becomes imminent. Keep a copy of the letter just in case the landlord decides to pretend he’s never got your notification. Also, make sure to inform your landlord about the move within the pre-defined notice period.

-Keep records of your investments and improvements. Take photos of all malfunctions that are not your fault. During the final walk-through with your landlord you may take pictures of the entire rental. In case your landlord is holding you responsible for some damage, you can compare them with the photos and notes from your move-in day.

-Take care of it as if it were your own. Leave the apartment in excellent condition by performing small reasonable repairs and deep cleaning. Aside from cleaning your apartment from top to bottom, consider using baking soda to neutralize pet odors.

You can either get down to work or hire a professional cleaning company to do the job for you. It’s certainly worthwhile making the entire place spotless before the final inspection so as to avoid deductions from your security deposit.