Select Page

Did you move into a new place just to find out the neighbors were noisy or your cell phone got no reception? I’ve rented 30 short-term apartments in the NYC area over the last few years and have learned a lot of things people forget to ask before they sign that lease. Luckily, mine were short-term inconveniences, but with more apartments requiring 1 year commitments with less than 30 minutes of time in the space — don’t forget to ask these questions first.

Easily Overlooked

  • How is your cell phone service in the apartment? Can you get voice and data connections?
  • How many working electrical outlets does the apartment have? How much power can you draw and where are the breaker switches in case you overload one?
  • What are the average utility bills on top of your monthly rent?


  • Minimum size that will accommodate your bedroom furniture.
  • How much control do you have over the heat? Many buildings in New York have centralized heat that the landlord controls instead of a thermostat.
  • Is there an AC unit in your bedroom or can you install one in your window?
  • If waking up to the sun is important to you, does the bedroom get any morning sun?

Bathroom & Kitchen

  • Check the water pressure and ask if hot water shortages are ever a problem in the mornings.
  • Check how fast the tub and sink drain water. Ask how often the landlord clears the pipes.
  • Are the appliances working? Who pays for repair if they fail?


  • How noisy are your neighbors? (Especially important if you’re sharing walls or have someone above you.)
  • How much outside noise will you hear during your sleeping hours? Is your bedroom on the street? Ask about traffic, pedestrians, and construction. Most construction in NYC is limited to Monday-Friday from 7am to 6pm — but 7am is still really early.
  • Does the heating system squeal, bang, or hiss?

Pests & Packages

  • Ask about mice, bug, and ant problems in the building. Living above a restaurant is a guaranteed pest magnet. Some buildings will have pest spray schedules.
  • Can you get package deliveries during weekday hours (if you’re usually not home).
  • Does the intercom/buzzer work to let people enter your building?
  • Higher-end buildings: Do they require large package delivery people (movers, furniture, mattresses) to have an certificate of insurance or schedule their delivery with the building?


  • Nearest grocery store, convenience store, and laundry/dry cleaners.
  • Nearest public transportation and parking.
  • How secure is the neighborhood? Some police agency show local crimeon but Manhattan isn’t covered as of the beginning of 2011.

10 Extra Things to Ask If Moving In With Roommates

  • What time do your roommates typically get up and go to bed each day? How noisy are they during your sleeping hours?
  • If sharing a bathroom, when do people usually take showers?
  • Does everyone agree to the same smoking policies?
  • Does everyone agree on a policy for weekend guests or significant others staying the night?
  • How long do you leave dishes in the sink?
  • How do you want to split cleaning the apartment? How clean do we want to keep it?
  • Who will take responsibility for paying the rent and/or utility bills? How and when is each roommate expected to pay?
  • How do you want to share household costs like toilet paper and cleaning supplies?
More Resources