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What you need to know about finding a great rental on Long Island

On Tuesday, May 22, Keith Banks talked about how he found a great apartment at Wyandanch Village. Credit: Newsday / Valerie Kellogg

Finding a rental on Long Island may seem like a daunting task, but it can be done via internet searches, calling potential management companies and being willing to work with a broker.

Use listing sites and management companies

On Long Island, apartment and home rentals are listed on mlsli.com as well as zillow.com.

The major management companies, including Avalon Bay — which has complexes 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 that feature available units.

Keith Banks, 53, says he decided to rent at Wyandanch Village, an apartment complex built in 2015, because he thought 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 renters may be tempted to go it alone to avoid paying a broker fee, it may be faster and easier to work with an agent who is familiar with the area 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 who handles rentals. “Working with an agent saves time and a lot of footwork for the tenant.”

Berni Merna, who rents a house 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 eventually found a place we love.”

Broker fees range from one month’s rent to 15 percent of the year’s rent and are determined by the location of the property. There are no-fee buildings, but sometimes rents can be higher in those buildings.

“Sometimes we’re able to find much lower rent for the tenant,” Wands says. “It can be much less expensive to pay a broker fee.”

Hair colorist Kristine Lapocca, who found her Huntington one-bedroom on Craigslist, says it was one of a few methods she used. Previously, she lived with a roommate on the top floor of a house that her friend’s parents owned. Lapocca, 26, says it’s a good idea to get the word out that you’re looking.

“A lot of times my co-workers would find things from their clients,” Lapocca says.

Know your credit score

When it comes time to rent, make sure you know your credit score and have proper documentation in advance of looking at units, Wands says.

“A tenant should have some idea of what their current credit score is, why it’s low and what’s causing it to be 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 a bad credit score because of a $10 copay 10 years ago.”

Credit checks are done by landlords and property managers on a case-by-case basis, Wands says.

Renters also need to show documentation that they can afford an apartment, which could be bank statements of direct deposit.

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