What you need to know to find a great rental on Long Island
Finding a rental on Long Island can seem like a daunting task, but it can be done by researching the internet, calling potential management companies, and agreeing to work with a broker.
Use referral sites and management companies
Major management companies, including Avalon Bay – which has resorts in Garden City, Glen Cove, Great Neck, Huntington Station, Long Beach, Melville, Rockville Centre, Smithtown and Westbury – and Bozzuto, which has buildings in Coram, Mineola , Patchogue, West Hempstead and Wyandanch – have their own websites which show the units available.
Keith Banks, 53, says he decided to rent in Wyandanch Village, an apartment complex built in 2015, because he believed the developer, the Albanese Organization, was dedicated to revitalizing the community.
He was “looking for developers who consider it important to keep Long Islanders on Long Island,” said Banks, who works for Bank of America.
Broker vs word of mouth
While tenants may be tempted to go it alone to avoid paying brokerage fees, it may be faster and easier to work with an agent who knows the area well to find your dream apartment.
“They may need to call 50 brokers to get into a property,” says Dawn Wands, an agent at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Port Washington that handles rentals. “Working with an agent saves time and a lot of work for the tenant.”
Berni Merna, who rents a home in East Rockaway with her husband, Nick, and their 5-month-old son, Dennis, says she used a broker from Laffey Real Estate. She says that even though their agent, Lori Castoria, found the listings, the search still took patience.
“We saw a lot of places and some weren’t great,” says Merna, 28. “But we kept looking and finally found a place we love.”
Brokerage fees vary from one month’s rent to 15% of annual rent and are determined by the location of the property. There are buildings with no fees, but sometimes the rents can be higher in these buildings.
“Sometimes we’re able to find a much lower rent for the tenant,” says Wands. “It can be much cheaper to pay brokerage fees.”
Hair colorist Kristine Lapocca, who found her Huntington one-bedroom apartment on Craigslist, says it was one of the few methods she used. Previously, she lived with a roommate on the top floor of a house owned by her friend’s parents. Lapocca, 26, says it’s a good idea to let people know you’re looking.
“A lot of times my co-workers would find things from their clients,” says Lapocca.
Know your credit score
When it comes time to rent, make sure you know your credit score and have the proper documentation before looking at units, Wands says.
“A tenant should have an idea of their current credit score, why it’s low, and what’s making it low,” Wands says. “A lot of times people’s credit scores are low because they don’t know what’s in them. Maybe they have bad credit from a $10 copayment 10 years ago.
Credit checks are done by landlords and property managers on a case-by-case basis, Wands says.
Tenants must also show documentation that they can afford an apartment, which may be direct deposit bank statements.