HousingLink Resource Center:
Find a Real Estate Broker
Searching the Internet
Search in the Neighborhood
Interviewing with Landlords/Brokers
Addressing Bad Credit
- Start your apartment search by figuring out what neighborhoods and rent levels are realistic.
- The government suggests that a family’s rent should equal between 30-40% of the household’s income to be considered affordable.
- Many real estate brokers and landlords require that a family earn 40 times the monthly rent per year to qualify for an apartment. For example if an apartment costs $1000 per month, you should earn about $40,000 per year to be considered.
- You should consider neighborhoods where rent levels match what is affordable to you and your family.
- Victims of domestic violence should also consider if the neighborhood is safe and in a location where it is unlikely the abuser will track them down.
- HPD partners with "Housing Ambassadors" - community based service providers in New York City who help people preapre and apply for affordable housing. People looking for additional support with their housing search are encouraged to reach out to these organizations.
- Do not pay a broker any fees until you have signed the lease for an apartment
- Choose another broker if your broker is asking for a fee above 15% of annual rent
- Never pay any broker’s fees with cash (use a check or pay with a money order to ensure that there is a clear record of any payments you make)
- Public assistance may not cover the entire fee. Currently, HRA is only approving requests for half of one month’s rent.
You may also find lists of brokers online, for example, Information for Families, Inc. provides a list of brokers on their website.
- Some realtors and housing developers also maintain their own websites with listings of apartments and the programs accepted. Sites include www.programrentals.com, Barron Rentals, Frank Lasker Realty and Lemle and Wolff.
If you have any concerns about your broker, you can verify that he/she is a licensed broker by calling New York State’s Division of Licensing Services at 212-471-5747.
If you are unfamiliar with using the Internet, you should visit your local library to see if they can help get you onto the Internet and help set up an email account.
As a rule, you should only use websites that provide housing information for free. Some websites will ask for a fee before providing information that might be available for free another website.
Online Real Estate Search Sites:
Keep in mind that many of these sites are message boards that allow landlords and brokers to post apartments and prospective tenants to search for apartments without any charge. Keep in mind that these are self-posted notices. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it might be.
Free newspaper listings can be a good source of apartment leads.
- NYC Housing Connect
- HPD Housing Ambassadors
- NJ Housing Resource Center
- NYCHA maintains online listings of Section 8 apartments. To view NYCHA’s list click here.
- Department of Housing Preservation and Development
- NYC Housing Development Corporation
- Association for Neighborhood Housing Development
- New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal
- Look in local and cultural newspapers for specific neighborhood listings.
- Find the local library and find out about other local newspapers and resources for finding housing.
- Take a walk around the neighborhood and look for realty offices and “for rent” signs.
- Identify local nonprofits and government representatives that might know about housing resources in the neighborhood. You can find information about local city council members in a particular area by visiting the City Council website.
- You should be prepared to answer questions about yourself, your family and your apartment history.
- Some of the questions you will be asked might be difficult to answer, but you have to come up with an answer that will satisfy the landlord's concerns.
- In order to have the best chance of getting the apartment that you want, prepare answers to possible questions in advance and think about ways to answer the questions that will cast you in the best light as a prospective tenant.
NOTE: Although it is important that you present your tenancy in the best possible light, you should never do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Keep your own mental and physical health in mind as you go through this process. There are many brokers and landlords who are out there to help you find an apartment, but there are others who may not act as ethically.
- Face any credit history issues and take positive steps to address bad credit
- Download your credit report from the federal government’s three major credit-reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com
- Improve your credit history by contacting an advocate who can recommend appropriate steps to address credit issues. The Financial Clinic is a nonprofit organization that provides this type of service.