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Find and rent your first home in the USA: tips from experienced immigrants

Author of the channel The ABC of Immigrant on Yandex Zen talks about how to find your first apartment in the United States and what you need to know about renting to all newly arrived immigrants. Next - from the first person.

Photo: Shutterstock

Many people know that in the US there is no registration. But this is not so. A person must have a mailing address to which mail would arrive to confirm residence (permanent residence), apply for bank cards, obtain a driver’s license, because each state has its own rights. The tax rate also depends on the state of residence - without an address in any way. You can rent a mailbox in the mail, but this is not always enough.

Rental housing is a rather complicated process. I will take New York as an example. I think you remember that in the United States, each state is a separate state with its own laws. Therefore, rental housing in one state can fundamentally differ from another not only in price, but also in procedure.

What a new immigrant needs to know

Liz (rental agreement). In fact, this will be a confirmation of your registration. Why is this needed? When you go to the bank to open your first account, first card, you may (not always so) ask for an envelope with your address and name, that is, confirmation that someone is already sending you mail to this address, which means you really live there. It can be an envelope with an invoice for electricity and the like.

In addition, your rights and obligations are prescribed in the lease. By law, any contract (in our case, a lease / lease agreement) must be in writing if it is valid for at least one year.

Typically, homeowners offer an agreement for one or two years with the right to renew. If you read / watch sad stories about how someone was evicted “just like that”, you should know that these people did not defend themselves with an agreement, otherwise they would have condemned the owner.

By the way, in New York, tenants are protected by the law so much that you still have to try to evict someone. Hence the high rent.

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Agent / Realtor must be with a license, which he is obliged to show you upon request. If he does not have a license, then you are involved in illegalism. You can do without him, but in this case, the homeowner may refuse you, since the realtor is responsible for whom he brought.

Large buildings (apartment buildings) often have their own management companies (management), which are involved in paperwork without a realtor.

Be careful! If you are offered to rent a house “from the owner” and without a contract, you are settled “on bird’s rights” and you can be evicted at any time. There are many stories when people lived without a contract, paid the owner cash, had no check for payment, and then they were kicked out as if for “non-payment”. It will be very difficult to prove everything. Yes, and why unnecessary problems in the new country?

Deposit. Usually it is equal to the size of one monthly rent. They will return it to you after you vacate the apartment (but only on condition that the apartment remains intact). Sometimes a deposit may be less than a monthly rent, and sometimes, on the contrary, more.

The management companies of apartment buildings, as a rule, check your financial viability (if you read that you did not check someone, this does not mean that you will not be checked either).

Since the new immigrant does not yet have any credit history, the owner may request payment several months in advance. In any case, the issue of deposit, as well as the question of the size of the monthly rent, is individual in each apartment and in each owner.

"Survive" by someone else's agreement. Beware of those who will offer you to "live" in the apartment under their contract. The fact is that if the contract is concluded for a year / two, it cannot be just terminated before the end of the term. If the owner agrees, then it is lucky, if not, then tenants can be added to the "black" list, which will significantly complicate the search for a new apartment later.

In order not to bring the matter to the "black" list, they are looking for those who will "survive" before the end of the contract. In this situation, the contract will not be your name. Although it is possible that the owner will meet and rewrite the contract for you. This is an ideal option.

How to search for an apartment?

The first way is to contact a real estate agency. By the way, from this year you do not need to pay money to a realtor - now the owner pays for it (it's just about New York). So far this is only being introduced. The second way is to google the buildings in which the apartments are rented, and contact them directly.

Zillow will not help. This does not mean that you do not need to look at this site at all. But, most of the apartments that are presented there require verification of your credit history, which is not yet available. Therefore, options with a realtor or with management companies are more promising. This site and other similar ones (,, etc.) will help you find your way around prices.

Discrimination. The only circumstance for your discrimination is the financial condition, or rather, even the lack of a credit history. Know that you cannot be raised rents or denied housing if you are a family with a child, if you are a single mother and the like. This is all discrimination. New York does not have the right to refuse to rent a house if the person is a sexual minority, while in some other states this category of people is not yet protected.

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Friend help. As you already understood, in the United States, checking the financial condition can significantly complicate the search for housing. In this situation, your friend, who already lives in the USA, has a credit history and can vouch for you.

Renting a home in the United States gives you all rights except ownership. Conclude a contract, carefully read what is written in it to protect yourself in the future. The tenant cannot simply be evicted - there must be substantial reasons for this, which are presented in the contract. Do not listen to the nightmare stories of those who live illegally. Approach the issue of rental housing wisely.

Original column published on the blog. The ABC of Immigrant on Yandex Zen

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