Sublet Apartments in New York City

By: Josh -

Last Updated: June 2, 2013

While visiting New York City, an alternative to spending hundreds on a cramped hotel room may be spending less money on your very own temporary apartment! That’s right. Checking the listings right now, I see a number of one bedroom apartments available for rent day to day, in Manhattan for as little as $60 per night. There’s even an offering for a large five bedroom loft in SoHo for $3,000 per week. Divide that by five people (one per bedroom) and by seven days, and each room is only $85 per night! And that’s in SoHo in a massive loft with everything you could ever need!


The law: Not so fast! A 2010 state law has become a hot topic in the city. The law states that it is illegal for anyone to sublet out their apartment for less than 30 days unless the resident stays in the apartment with the person subletting! That may be a bit awkward. The law is meant to fight illegal hotels, but it has made its way into regular apartments as well. Airbnb, a short term rental site is even in court over the law. So unless things change, take note that if you plan to sublet for less than 30 days, you'll have to sublet a room with the lease holder still living in the apartment with you. If someone tries to sublet you a place all to yourself, they are technically breaking the law!


But if you don't mind sharing the apartment and only need a bedroom or if you're looking for a place for more than 30 days, read on and save!


The Benefits of Subletting a NYC Apartment


The benefits of subletting an apartment include saving money, experiencing New York City like a real New Yorker would, living in neighborhoods which may have a limited number of hotels, and again, saving a ton of money. Subletting is probably best for the casual traveler or tourist on holiday as typically no receipts are provided (which may not be good for someone traveling for business) and not as many (or any) amenities are offered.


The Downsides of Subletting a NYC Apartment


There are downsides to subletting as well. If you enjoy being pampered by concierge and/or room service, you’ll be out of luck. You’re subletting someone’s apartment. New York City apartments can be cramped and old. Typically, a New York City apartment will be a 100 year old pre-war walk-up with not very reliable hot water. Many sublets are “under the table” and cash only, which can make some people, feel uneasy. You have to watch out for possible scams or bait and switch schemes. (See below)


Student Intern Summer Sublets in NYC


If you are a student or intern coming into NYC for the summer, subletting is a GREAT option for you. Many NYC students leave the city for the summer to head back home. While they are gone, many want to sublet out their room. As you would both be students, the situation may be ideal. (Roommates the same age, similar needs, younger/hipper location like Greenwich Village, etc.)


Things to Watch Out For & to Keep in Mind when Subletting a NYC Apartment


When subletting a NYC apartment, there are some things you should look out for:


1. Don’t hand over a wad of cash. If you agree to sublet someone’s apartment, insist on paying with a check. There have been a number of instances of people handing over cash, never to hear from the landlord again. Writing a check will require them to give you their real name and will help to legitimize the transaction. If you hand over cash, you could never prove you ever paid anything. No matter what their excuse may be, if they can’t accept a check, there is something fishy going on.


2. If you have to pay a security deposit; get it in writing. If the person you are subletting from asks for a security deposit, make sure to get something in writing showing that you actually paid such a deposit. Make sure that it is mentioned that the deposit will be returned to you when you leave as long as there are no damages. Both you and the landlord should print and sign their names on two copies of this agreement and each of you should keep one.


3. If you can; check out the place beforehand. Try not to send checks via mail. Try your hardest to view a potential room before handing over any money. Pictures on the internet can be deceiving. I know this may be a pain, but if you’re subletting long term (like over the summer months), your best bet is to get a hotel room or stay with a friend for a few days to a week, while looking around for your sublet. You’ll be happy you did.


3. Don’t be pressured and don’t rush into anything. After viewing a place, give yourself at least a few hours to think about it. The NYC housing market has cooled. It is not like it was pre-recession. Rooms stay unoccupied for longer periods of time. There are no longer mobs of potential renters outbidding each other to get into a room. Take your time, look around and find something you like.



Some things you may want to ask are: What time may I arrive? What time must I be out? When and where can I pick up my keys? Will there be anyone else in the apartment with me? Who do I call if I have a problem and what is that person's phone number? How do I get my deposit back (if applicable)? Will sheets and towels be provided?


How to Find a Sublet in NYC


There are a number of websites that offer help in finding an apartment to sublet. You can try one of the many options out there including Craigslist or you can go to your local university off-campus-housing center and ask for help. You may want to utilize local newspapers. Try to find something between $60 and $120 per night if subletting in NYC. These prices are very typical for studio and one bedroom sublets in NYC. If you are subletting long-term you can expect to pay between $800 and a few thousand per month depending on the building, number of rooms, location, number of roommates (if any), etc.


Note: There are a number of online services that act as middlemen in the subletting process. Some hold your money in escrow until after your stay. Others set everything up for you and deal with the owner on your behalf.


After finding some places that meet your needs and price range; send out emails and/or call the people who made the listings. Set up times and dates to view the apartment. If after viewing an apartment, you feel it would work for you; write a check for the amount due, ask any questions you may have and don't forget to get a contract written up if you are to hand over and kind of security deposit.


Lastly; ask when you can pick up your keys!



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