With dozens of colleges and universities, New York has one of the largest populations of international students in the country. People from all over the world come to study here, and all these students need accommodation. If you are one of these students, finding accommodation can get a bit complicated, with each school having different rules for on-campus accommodation. For this reason, many international students choose to rent apartments, but this comes with its own set of issues. So how does the rental process work for international students? Are there easier ways to find accommodation in New York while you study?
Documents that international students must provide to owners
US citizens need to verify who they are, their ability to pay rent, and their ability to pay their bills on time. The latter is usually verified by checking the credit score of a potential tenant. However, if you are an international student, you probably don’t have a credit score. This means that you will need to provide different documents to landlords in order to prove that you can and will pay for your space. The main documents you will need are:
- Passport/Photo ID to prove you are you.
- Bank statements for the last two months proving that you can afford the apartment.
- Any document proving that you receive financial assistance such as a scholarship or a family gift.
- Your I-20 visa to prove you can live anywhere in the United States.
- The offer letter your school sent you.
Landlords may also ask for letters of recommendation from employers, friends, or former roommates who once lived with you. This is because landlords want to know that their apartment will be well maintained while you live there. They might also ask for a letter of employment if you intend to work while studying. If you find a job, the government will provide you with a social security number which you must also give to your landlord. However, the documents listed above will suffice for most city owners.
What are my tenant rights as an international student?
Each tenant has rights thanks to the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against anyone based on nationality, race, age, gender, disability, religion, family or relationship status. Essentially, New York landlords are required to treat all potential tenants equally. If you think you have been discriminated against because you are an international student, you can file a complaint here or call 311. To be fair, however, it would be best to file a complaint and also look for alternative accommodation. Nothing is worse than a landlord willing to break the law, and your housing situation can quickly become a nightmare during an already difficult time.
What if I can’t provide bank statements or proof of employment?
We all know that life gets in the way of certain plans, and there are scenarios where you might not have a bank statement or proof of employment. Yet, as an international student, there are ways around this problem.
Most international students who encounter difficulties are very lucky with guarantors. A guarantor is someone who is legally obligated to pay your rent if you are unable to do so for any reason. A guarantor can be anyone, family or friend, and can provide you with adequate proof of payment without having to divulge a bunch of financial information. Some landlords will only accept guarantors in New York State and the Tri-State Area, so keep that in mind. Ultimately, landlords just want to know that you can pay rent. Once they know you can, they’ll be able to sleep soundly at night.
If you are uncomfortable or unable to provide some of the required documents to a landlord, consider finding roommates instead. There are always people looking for roommates in town, and the vast majority of them will be fine if you’re not on the lease. That said, just because roommates aren’t landlords doesn’t mean you can get into an apartment. Roommates will probably want to talk to you a bit, find out about your financial situation, and be sure you can pay the rent on time. It’s certainly a less rigorous process than going through a landlord, but there are still hurdles you’ll have to jump through.
Things to avoid when looking for accommodation
Housing in New York is complicated by design, so if things are going too good too fast, you might want to watch out for red flags. For example, if someone offers their house to you as an Airbnb, run away as quickly as possible. It’s illegal in New York to rent multi-unit spaces for less than 30 days. However, if an Airbnb says you can stay longer than 30 days, it doesn’t have to register any information with the city, and hosts can charge whatever they want for rent. You can lose a lot of money this way, so it’s best to stick to traditional rental routes.
Although renting with landlords is the law of the land in New York, you should always avoid building owners who have a history of building violations. You can search past violations of a building here, and be sure to check if the building fixed the problem. Most buildings have few violations. After all, many buildings in the city are old. However, if a building has more than ten violations, especially if these violations are repeated, it is best to avoid renting there. Landlords may also ask you to pay a little more money up front. Although it doesn’t appear on any list of offences, it’s still an illegal practice, as landlords can’t charge more than a month’s rent in advance. So be careful. Nothing is worse than a bad owner.
Things to look for when looking for accommodation
Finding an apartment can be difficult, especially if you don’t know where to start. Above all, look for an apartment near your school. It’s easier said than done. After all, many New York schools are in very expensive neighborhoods. With that in mind, check out the metro stations near your school. Getting around can be quite easy once you master the subway, and there are a ton of more affordable neighborhoods that have great access to trains. While proximity to your school is ideal, finding an apartment with a good metro line is a great back-up plan.
Students will have a ton of work to do, and while most of your nights will be spent on the town, it’s important to find a place that can also turn into a safe haven when you need to study or do business. Your work. Finding less crowded neighborhoods or well soundproofed apartments will be a game changer. You may have to get used to the noise no matter where you are in the city, but some neighborhoods are definitely better than others when it comes to peace and quiet.
Tips for finding an apartment
Finding an apartment is difficult for people in the United States, and it can seem almost impossible for international students. This is why we recommend that you work with a real estate agent. They will be able to find quality apartments that meet your needs, and can even be your eyes when you are abroad. NYC agents know the neighborhoods, buildings, and landlords like no one else, so it’s a good idea to use their expertise.
This may not be possible for all international students, but it is a good idea to visit the city several times before signing a lease. Touring the city will help you familiarize yourself with the terrain, learn about neighborhoods where it is possible to live, and see your campus so you know what to expect. Again, we realize this will not be possible for everyone. However, if you are able to explore this great city, it will definitely help you prepare for it. If you are unable to visit the city, ask a friend or relative to visit certain sites for you. NYC is a major change for everyone, so you need to know what to expect.
The most important advice we can give is to stay optimistic. Finding an apartment in New York is difficult and chances are it will take some time. The market is crazy right now, and it will be for a long time. That said, don’t give up! There is always room for tenants in New York and eventually you will find out where to live. Don’t let the search for an apartment deprive you of the excitement of the city and your educational journey. You’ll find an apartment, nail it to school, and have a great time in the Big Apple.
Housing within the city complex, especially for international students who have to jump through a bunch of hoops. However, once you have all your paperwork in order, know what to look for and what to avoid, the hunt won’t seem as bad as everyone tells you. Moving to a new country is difficult, and finding accommodation in the new country can be daunting. However, it is important to know that the city is on your side. So welcome to NYC, international students! We hope you get the most out of NYC.