Applying for an Apartment
Most landlords have their own standard application (a few require the broker to use their own), and everyone over the age of eighteen must fill out an application and pay an application processing fee.
Standard documents are required for both applicants and guarantors/co-signers. Please be aware that this is only a guideline and your agent will let you know if the landlord requires more or less.
Upfront fees may include: an application processing fee, an agency deposit or a landlord deposit.
Each landlord has their own policy on how they will accept applications. A few will accept multiple applications on the same apartment and compare them against each other. Most will only take complete applications and treat them as a ‘some operate on a first come first serve’ basis. If you have submitted an offer, your agent is required to submit it, but the landlord is not obligated to accept the offer (they may also counter your offer).
Since time is of the essence, it is imperative that you and any other applications have assembled all your documents as quickly as possible. Many agents will advise that you start gathering documents before you know you are going to be looking. A few documents such as employment letters or CPA letters may take a while to get so asking for these in advance is recommended.
Once your agent has all your documents, it’s time for the waiting game. Application approvals can vary from: on the spot, an hour, a day or two days or more. It depends on whether the landlord is a private owner and can make a quick decision, if several owners have to make a decision or if the leasing department is bogged down. Additionally, if some management companies cannot verify some of the information on your application it may slow down the process. A good rule of thumb is to allow 96 hours for application results. However, there is no deadline on how long a landlord can take you to approve your application.
Note: It is uncommon in NYC to be able to review a copy of the lease prior to the lease signing as depending on the internal policies of each landlord, lease terms may vary slightly. Landlords do not have draft copies on file for an agent to provide to the client. Remember, reading a draft copy can actually be a waste of time. It is always better to read the entire document that you will be signing at the lease signing. If you read a draft before the lease signing, it is easy for the landlord to change the lease out.