Tenant

Sierra Residential provides relocation services for companies and individuals alike. Sierra agents have access to thousands of apartments throughout New York City that they can easily show to prospective tenants.

Below is some basic information to help the prospective New York City tenant navigate the rental process.

Tenant Qualifications

  • Tenants typically need to earn annually 40x an apartment's monthly rent to be approved by a landlord (e.g. if a studio apartment were to rent at $2000/mo, the landlord would be looking for a minimum of $80K per year in income).
  • Two or more prospective tenants may qualify together if their combined annual salaries equal at least 40x the monthly rent.
  • Bonuses are generally included in annual income with salary, provided there is evidence of similar bonus compensation over a consecutive two-year period.
  • A credit check is a necessary part of the application process. The credit check is generally paid for by the prospective tenant. Application fees typically range from $50-100. Good credit is generally reflected by a FICO score of 700 or higher and can be evidenced by several open lines of credit which are either unused or paid on time each month. High student loan balances do not generally detract from one's credit-worthiness provided payments are made on time or deferred.
  • No credit is not good credit. Prospective tenants who have built up no credit history should generally be prepared to pay additional security or additional rent when searching for an apartment. This is because landlords without documented evidence of tenant credit-worthiness have no ability to assess whether the tenant will pay rent on time.
  • Foreign credit is not good credit. Landlords in the United States have no reliable way to gauge a tenant's credit-worthiness based on foreign credit reporting. Some landlords will accept Canadian credit reports on a case-by-case basis. However, prospective tenants with no U.S. credit who are relocating to New York should be prepared to pay a significant amount of either extra security, pre-paid rent, or both, in order to secure an apartment.
  • Bad credit is not good credit. Applications for most buildings are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Brokers and property managers try to work with prospective tenants who show interest in apartments. However, tenants who have in the past had serious delinquencies or bankruptcies are at a disadvantage. It is best to be honest and open with your agent, prior to looking at apartments, concerning any past credit issues. In this way, agents will be able to more properly present your application to landlords for the best chances of approval. Tenants with negative items on their credit reports should generally be prepared to pay additional security, pre-paid rent, or both.
  • College graduates beginning their first jobs do not generally have a long track-record of employment and are often required to provide extra security or to use a guarantor for their leases.
  • Guarantors are typically required to earn annually 80x the monthly rent of an apartment and also to have excellent credit. Foreign guarantors who do not have U.S. credit are not acceptable to landlords. Some landlords will only accept guarantors who live within the Tri-State area; others will accept guarantors from any part of the United States. However, depending on the location of a guarantor's residence, a landlord may require additional security.
  • Landlords require certain paperwork, along with the credit check, to be submitted as part of a completed application. Please note that landlords generally take multiple applications for apartments, and therefore it is very important that you have all of your completed paperwork ready to submit once you see an apartment for which you would like to apply. The typical paperwork required is as follows:
  1. Letter of employment which documents your start date and current compensation. If you recently accepted a new position but have not started work yet, an offer letter is accepted.
  2. Tax returns for the past 2 years. Generally, federal tax returns are sufficient.
  3. Full bank statements, showing account activity and balances for the past 2 to 4 months. Pdf copies, which are easily accessible on bank websites, are accepted. Please note that bank statements which black-out account numbers or any other information generally cannot be submitted with the application. Photo snapshots of bank statements are often illegible and can result in a rejected application.
  4. Recent paystubs and/or W2s.
  5. A current and valid form of government-issued ID (e.g. a driver's license, state ID, passport, or Permanent Resident Card).
  • Once approval for an apartment is granted, landlords generally expect tenants to sign within 24 hours. It is crucial that you have all of the funds needed to complete the lease signing transaction; otherwise you put your application at risk. Typical minimum funds needed at lease signing include the first month's rent, a one month security deposit, and a broker fee. Broker fees are typically 15% of the annual rent. For example, if a studio apartment were to rent at $2000/mo, the 15% broker fee would be $3600; the minimum funds needed at lease-signing would be $7600.
  • If you are relocating to the United States from a foreign country, it is very important that you have a U.S. bank account with appropriate funds for the lease signing transaction. Landlords generally expect for the lease to be signed and funded within 24 hours of approval, so any delay related to a wire transfer could jeopardize your application.

Types of Buildings

There are several types of buildings in which a prospective New York City tenant can rent an apartment. It is important to note the distinctions among building types, since they result in differences in the way rental applications are processed.

  • Rental building. A landlord owns the entire building and has the right to lease all of the units. Such buildings can range from small walk-ups to full-service doorman buildings. Landlords of these properties only require an application with a credit check. The application is either approved personally by the landlord (if it is a small owner) or by the property managers/brokers who represent the landlord (if it is a large portfolio). The typical turn-around time for applications is 1 to 3 days.
  • Condominium. Each unit is privately owned by an individual or entity. The condominium is typically managed by a third-party agent. After a lease is signed by unit owner and prospective tenant, it must be submitted to the condominium's board for approval. The prospective tenant cannot take possession of an apartment until they have been approved by the board. However, board turn-downs are virtually unheard of in New York, because in order to reject a potential application, members of the board would have to agree to rent the apartment themselves in place of the prospective tenant. After a condo lease is signed, the board package is submitted through the managing agent, who reviews it before sending to the board. Board packages typically have additional fees and paperwork required. These additional fees can range from $500-2000. The turn-around time for board approval is typically 2 weeks to 30 days. Once you have been approved, you may lease the unit for as long you and the landlord wish to continue the relationship.
  • Co-op. Individuals own shares of the corporation that has title to the building. Most individuals who own co-ops are homeowners who have not purchased for investment purposes. However, co-ops usually allow a certain period of subletting in which individuals can lease their apartments to prospective tenants. In order to apply for an apartment in a co-op, you must submit a board package which typically requires a large amount of paperwork and additional fees. These fees can range from $500-2000. Co-op boards reserve the right to reject any application even if the individual unit shareholder agrees to rent the apartment. Turn-around time for board approval is typically 2 weeks to 30 days. Once you have been approved, you may lease the unit for as long as you and the landlord wish to continue the relationship and the board gives it consent.