How to Find a Sublet in New York City


Subletting apartments in big cities is almost more common that straight rentals. In a city like New York, where people come and go like the wind, subletting is big business. Whether you’re looking for a vacation rental, short-term sublet or a place to stay while looking for a more permanent residence, subletting can be a safe and relatively easy way to do it if you know what you’re doing. Sublets are a great way to get a feel for the city and because they are normally furnished all you need is your clothes. Don’t discount temporary sublets in apartments with roommates. These can be helpful when trying to get acquainted with the new city. Here’s a way to find the perfect sublet in New York City.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Internet
  • New York City newspapers
  • Cash
  • Personal references
  • Credit check
  • Get acquainted with the city. If you’re coming here for work, know where you are working and look for apartments in areas that are easily communicated to your office. Check the subway maps and detailed city maps to see what subway lines easily feed into the areas you’d like to be in and begin your apartment search there.

  • Know your budget. Don’t go into the housing market in New York unprepared. New York is easily the most expensive city in the country and not fully recognizing that will put you in apartment shock.

  • Don’t expect too much. On top of being expensive, New York City apartments are old and small. Many apartments will not be equipped with elevators and 6-floor walkups are as common as the blare of a taxi horn. Don’t go into a sublet search expecting a big bedroom, floor to ceiling windows, fire places and eat-in kitchens because you will be disappointed.

  • Find your sublet. Check the local listings in the back of newspapers and online. City papers are a great way to see what’s available, but you’ll also want to look at online sites like Craigslist, which provide a more complete listing of vacation and short term sublets.

  • Send an email. If you find a place you’re interested, send the contact an email. Email everyone and plan to email a lot of people before you get even one response. Not everyone will email you back and even those who do will have a million other people responding, so keep your options open by keeping your list heavy and long.

  • Send the right email. New York City apartments come and go quickly and in order to be taken seriously you’ll need to send the right information. Tell the renter who you are, when you’re arriving, how long you’re staying and why you’ll be in the city, but avoid last-resort begging and do not make promises. Desperation doesn’t work in New York City.

  • Try to visit the places you are interested in. If you’re moving from out of town, this could prove difficult, but if you’re in New York, set up appointments in areas your are interested in living. Pictures can be deceiving and you never know what you’re actually going to get. This will also give you a chance to meet the owner and ask more pertinent questions.

  • Ask the right questions. Are the utilities and bills included in the monthly rental fee or are they separate? If they’re separate, how much will you be expected to pay for these expenses? If you need internet, cable and a land line, does the apartment have these things? Can you use the kitchen and the kitchen supplies? Make a list of the things you find important in a home and make sure to get answers for these questions.

  • Be prepared for anything. Expect a credit check and don’t be surprised by yours. Know what your credit score is, so that you aren’t surprised when an application is denied. Have references from past landlords and roommates on hand in the off chance that you’re asked for them and expect to pay a deposit and security fee.

  • Get it in writing. You don’t need a formal contract, but a signed copy of the deal is necessary. Include all the pertinent information in this contract, like the monthly fee, the amount of your deposit and the situations that could cause you to forfeit the deposit. Make sure you know if there is a cleaning fee and do a walk through with the tenant before and after to check for preexisting damage. Have the tenant write these things down and both of you should sign it. Get your deposit back the day you move out; do not trust that someone will send it to you and never accept a check.

  • Do not transfer money electronically. There are a lot of scammers working out there and they will post fake ads in order to get desperate people to fork over cash. The only time any cash should exchange hands is if there is a written contract. Many people will ask for a deposit to secure a space (no more than 20% of the balance), but do not pay the full balance until you pick up the keys and always get a receipt.

Tips & Warnings

  • If someone charges you for a credit check, ask for a copy of the credit check once it comes in. You have a right to it and it could help you avoid paying for more credit checks in the future.
  • Follow your gut. If the situation feels sketchy it probably is. Don’t do anything that you’re uncomfortable with or that feels strange and awkward.
  • Expect to pay a deposit. Sublets are generally rented by people who own the apartment, so they’ll be wearing of strangers renting their place and will require steep security deposits. Expect to pay at least a one month deposit and a security fee, both of which will be refundable upon completion of your stay if everything is still intact.
  • Be aware of frauds and scams. Do not send money electronically and get a receipt for any transactions that occur between you and the owner.

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