The crippling heat waves and power outages aren’t the only things that make summer in New York City unbearable. It’s also the worst time to look for a rental apartment.
“The worst time to look is when demand is at its highest during the summer months,” says Eric Mendelsohn of Warburg Realty.
However, not everyone can choose to look during the holiday season and the second half of January, plus February, when demand is at its lowest, negotiability is at its highest and landlords provide better concessions (and you can more easily find a moving company at the last minute).
Here are some tips if you have to start your hunt during the dog days.
Since most New Yorkers are on a summer lease schedule, you need to be prepared ahead of time with your paperwork, Mendelsohn says. “Having a boss who will let you have an extended lunch break to look at apartments will help too!”
Get a head start
“Generally speaking, start your search two months ahead of time,” says Michael Bello, a broker at REAL New York. “By June 1, for example, the best July 1 inventory is usually already rented. Do not wait until the last minute.”
Luckily, the summer is a good time for picky renters, because supply is the highest, says Luke Joyce, also with REAL New York.
“If apartment specifics are more important to you than sticking to a strict budget, then summer can be a great time to look for an apartment.”
Avoid holiday weekends
While it may seem like the whole city is off on vacation during July Fourth and even Labor Day weekends, avoid those holidays that fall at the beginning of the month during your hunt, says Gerard Splendore of Warburg Realty.
These holidays “can upset schedules with realtors, contractors landlords, and tenants who are moving out … and are not ideal for apartment searching or move-in,” Splendore says. “In a perfect world, a tenant would move out on the 30th of the month and overnight, by 9 a.m. the following day, the apartment would be clean, painted, repaired and updated for a new tenant to set up housekeeping. Just as most schools begin just after Labor Day making the first day in September the worst day of the year to move or rent a truck for a self-move, working to get all the pieces to fall into place on schedule can be stressful.”
Try to get a lease that ends in the summer
Renting in an “off” month, such as February or March, can offer tenants an opportunity to negotiate the length of their lease, Splendore says. “If a tenant signs in February or March, the landlord faces a lease that will expire a year later in February or March, thus repeating this awkward schedule,” Splendore says. “Much better for the tenant to ask of an 18-month lease, ending at the end of July or August, 18 months into the future.”