Craigslist NYC Apartments for Rent By Owner and No Fee Options (2024)

December 27, 2023 | 10 minute read | the RENT BETTA team

Craigslist NYC Apartments for Rent By Owner and No Fee Options (1)

Looking to rent an apartment in NYC?

Craigslist’s no broker fee page is one of the most popular ways to find an apartment in NYC without the cost and hassle of working with a broker.

Here’s how to find an apartment for rent-by-owner on Craigslist, popular scams to be on the lookout for, and other sites to find no fee apartments for rent directly from building owners.

What Are NYC Craigslist Apartments for Rent By Owner?

A few years ago, Craigslist had three options in their Apartments / Housing for Rent section in NYC:

1. All apartments (includes by-owner, no-fee broker, and fee broker)

2. All no-fee apartments (includes by-owner and no-fee broker)

3. By-owner apartments only (no brokers)

The last option (by-owner apartments only) was the best way to avoid pesky brokers and outrageous broker fees, promising to show you only apartments available directly from the owners or and property managers.

However, brokers would still post their listings in this section, as Craigslist did limited checking.

Unfortunately, Craigslist has entirely removed the option to select for rent “By-owner”.

Maybe it was too popular? Or they simply gave up trying to remove all the flagged broker listings?

Either way, we’re now stuck with the second best option, selecting “no broker fee” apartments and then manually sorting-through anything that looks like it’s posted by a broker or is a fake listing.

We’re still after the same gems of the NYC rental market: no fee apartments available directly from property owners, managers, or leasing offices (not brokers). These “direct” deals don’t have the added cost of or difficulty of working with a broker, so the apartments are typically cheaper and the listings more accurate.

How to Find NYC Craigslist Apartments for Rent By Owner

Go to NYC Craigslist Apartments and select the box “no broker fee” in the search column towards the bottom left, highlighted here:

Craigslist NYC Apartments for Rent By Owner and No Fee Options (2)

Check the box for "no fee" highlighted near the bottom left to see "no fee" options in NYC Craigslist Apartments

This will give you everything anyone who has paid a full $5 to post on Craigslist has self-selected as no fee, including:

  1. Fake apartments that don’t actually exist (brokers often post these to generate “leads”, even though they have no matching apartment to show)

  2. Apartments advertised as “no fee” though the broker may take one indirectly, through a free month of rent the landlord was otherwise offering

  3. Actual no fee apartments available for rent directly from owners or property managers (the gems of the NYC rental market!)

The third option is the most valuable – real apartments currently available for rent that truly have no broker fee. All others are a waste of time.

Skip past anything that looks like it’s posted by a broker, which typically include tell-tale watermarks of a brokerage logo in the photos, or have broker contact details in the description.

Highly-formatted, cookie-cutter descriptions are another clue the listing comes from a broker. Large brokerages sometimes use automated software to fill Craigslist with a slew of formatted listings.

What you’re looking for are recent, real listings from “mom-and-pop” landlords. These are the owners of many of NYC’s walk-up buildings, and they won’t charge you a broker fee.

Why For-Rent-By-Owner Apartments Are the Best No-Fee Apartments

Brokers like to sell you the idea “either you pay a broker fee outright, or you will pay one through higher rent.”

But this isn’t true. If you work with a broker, yes, you will be either cutting them a check for the broker fee when you submit your application, or you will end up paying higher rent as the landlord passes the cost of them paying the broker fee on to you.

After all, brokers are not charities...they don’t work for free. So if you are dealing with one, expect a 1-2 month fee to be coming out of your pocket, either directly or indirectly.

Look for no-fee, for-rent-by-owner apartments. These are the best deals in the NYC rental market. Since you rent the apartment directly from whomever owns the building, you don’t pay the added cost of working with the broker, either through a direct broker fee or indirectly through higher rent.

So now that you have skipped past what are the obvious broker listings on Craigslist, reach out (preferably with a yahoo email address you just setup and a disposable number) to see the remaining apartments you like.

Hopefully, they’re real, and are available for rent as described.

Common Scams in NYC Craigslist Apartments for Rent

If we’re talking about the positives of Craigslist, we should also talk about the negatives.

And that’s scams. There are lots of them on Craigslist, though fortunately, they fit into common patterns that make them easier to spot once we know what to look for.

Our list of the Top NYC Craigslist Apartment Scams

From years of renting in NYC (and getting fleeced or near-fleeced a few times), the RENT BETTA team has come up with our list of the top scams to avoid while hunting for apartments on Craigslist:

  1. Demands for immediate cash payment before seeing an apartment, typically via wire transfer (you’ll be sending money abroad based on a nice listing, while there isn’t actually any available apartment to rent)

  2. Apartments that exist and you can tour but are priced far below market (the broker or landlord may be charging hundreds of people a $20 application fee, and pocketing the cash)

  3. Bait-and-switch listings (they can’t show you that apartment…but hey, they’ve got another one just like it)

  4. Fake landlords (current tenants are posing as landlords, and the lease you sign isn’t actually legitimate - only the Managing Agent or Officer of the building should countersign your lease)

Experienced NYC renters are familiar with these scams, and know there is a big difference between all the attractive listings shown online, and the actual inventory of apartments available for rent.

You may find 5-10 apartment listings that look compelling - each with nice photos, typically marked as “no fee”, and at price points which seem like a real bargain. Heck, they even look like a great deal over your current apartment. But reach out to see these apartments and schedule a few tours, and you get hit with a much different reality.

The apartment listings aren't actually available, or if they are, look much different in real life than the photos in the listing.

So why the big divergence between what you see online and what’s actually available?

A Quora user breaks it down well.

Quora’s #1 NYC Craigslist Apartment Scam

One Quora user described NYC Craigslist apartment scams, and the head-scratching difference between what’s show online and what you find in real life:

"I've lived in NYC apartments for almost 8 years. It's generally one of several options:

  1. It's a scam, straight up. They come up with a story to scam you out of two or three months of rent without an actual apartment. ("I'm traveling right now but if you wire me the money I'll send you the key.")

  2. They're flat-out lying about the rent, the availability of the apartment, or even the existence of the apartment. ("Oh, that apartment was JUST rented out, but here are my other listings. The rent is only 5x more!")

  3. They're cramming in more people than should legally be allowed in there, e.g. putting 2 or 3 people in 1 bedroom, "converting" the living room into a bedroom, etc.

  4. It's actually nowhere near Manhattan but they list it in the Manhattan section and/or include Manhattan neighborhoods as keywords to get more views. You see TONS of apartments that are actually in Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, or even CT listed as Manhattan apartments.”

Craigslist’s Own List of Top Scams to Avoid

Craigslist details common scams that you should be on the lookout for. In short, never sign a lease or send payment before seeing the actual apartment:

Craigslist NYC Apartments for Rent By Owner and No Fee Options (3)

Streeteasy for Rent By Owner Apartments - Less Than You Hoped For

NYC apartment search behemoth Streeteasy does have a for-rent-by-owner section for landlords to post listings, but the site delivers less than you as a renter may be hoping for.

Streeteasy is the most expensive option for landlords to post listings, $6/day the last we checked, or about $180 per month.

Craigslist, on the other hand, is only $5 per month.

So while landlords or property managers can post their for-rent-by-owner listings on Streeteasy, few do, as they have much cheaper alternatives to find renters.

That means you will find few for-rent-by-owner apartments on Streeteasy. It’s mostly just brokers (charging expensive broker fees) who can afford to post on Streeteasy.

In short, Craigslist is a better alternative than Streeteasy to find for-rent-by-owner apartments, because it is cheaper for landlords to post there, so more do.

Just don't forget to avoid the scams!

Other Sites to Find No Fee Apartments for Rent by Owner in NYC

Craigslist is a good option to find no fee, for-rent-by-owner apartments from small mom-and-pop landlords in NYC.

And major apartment search websites like Streeteasy, RentHop and PropertyClub mostly have listings from brokers (so expect a lot of broker fees or fake broker listings).

Are there any other ways to find no fee apartments for rent directly from leasing offices or building owners in NYC, without a broker or their added fees? is a new startup that connects renters with all the leasing offices in NYC that let you rent directly their apartments directly from them, bypassing a broker altogether.

In fact, brokers aren’t allowed to post on the site, only verified property managers and building owners. This eliminates fake broker listings that plague other NYC apartment search websites (we’re looking at you, Streeteasy, RentHop, and PropertyClub).

Every listing on and has buttons to book a tour and apply.

Craigslist NYC Apartments for Rent By Owner and No Fee Options (4)

Book a Tour and Apply directly with leasing offices using two buttons on every listing on

Each office works a little differently, so we connect you however their office is set up.Some property managers have online portals to tour and apply, others use a popup, and some others still rely on email. We'll connect you with them in whatever method they use, so you may see a popup with their email address (and a handy draft message) or you'll be linked to their website. We'll always connect you directly to the building owner so you never have to pay a broker fee.

Want to apply? Click Apply Now and you’ll be connected directly with the leasing office’s online application portal or a pdf with instructions on how to submit it with supporting documents. is an easy way to see all no-fee, direct from owner apartments on one site, rather than scroll through fake listings or other apartment scams online.


No fee, for-rent-by-owner apartments typically offer the best deals in the NYC rental market, and Craigslist’s no fee NYC apartments / housing for rent page is a good hunting ground, though you’re going to have to sift through a lot of (fake) broker listings and scams. is another good option to find for-rent-by-owner apartments, and has nearly every apartment you can rent directly from a leasing office in NYC. Major apartment search websites like Streeteasy, RentHop, and PropertyClub are mostly filled with broker listings, which means you may waste a lot of time (and potentially money) in your apartment search.

Craigslist NYC Apartments for Rent By Owner and No Fee Options (2024)


How to get an apartment in NYC without a broker fee? › makes this easy by connecting you to no fee apartments from all the leasing offices in NYC. For any apartment, click Book a Tour or Apply Now, and you'll schedule a tour and submit your application directly to the building owner, so you'll never have to work with or pay a broker.

What is the best website to look for apartments in NYC? ›

Several trusted websites offer comprehensive listings to help you navigate this journey, including Zillow,, June Homes, uhomes, and StreetEasy.

How to get an apartment in NYC with low income? ›

NYC Housing Authority (Public Housing)

Provides rent subsidized housing for those who meet HUD's Section 8 eligibility requirements. Tenants' rent is 30% of their monthly gross income. Due to long waiting lists, priority is given to individuals and families applying from shelters and other agencies.

How to get an apartment in NYC without a job? ›

How to Get an Apartment Without a Job
  1. Get a Co-Signer.
  2. Find a Roommate.
  3. Rent From a Private Landlord.
  4. Present a Credit Letter.
  5. Ask Previous Landlords for References.
  6. Lean On Your Credit Score.
  7. Pay Upfront.
  8. Get a Personal Loan.
May 20, 2024

Why are some NYC apartments no fee? ›

When you see OP listings, this means that the landlord will pay brokers and agents to find them tenants. Or, the cost can be picked up by the building's management company, which has leasing agents on staff. Either way, it means the renter will not pay a fee.

Are brokers fees negotiable? ›

"By law, real estate brokerage fees are negotiable," says Rick Smith, director of the California Association of Realtors. "This is part of what real estate brokers do for a living, negotiating. If you're good at what you do, you should be able to explain why you're worth what you charge."

How to find an apartment in NYC fast? ›

Finding an Apartment
  1. Online. Both brokers and landlords post their available apartments in online databases (such as StreetEasy or Craigslist), sometimes with a fee and sometimes without. ...
  2. Brokers. ...
  3. Networking/Word of Mouth. ...
  4. Walking Around. ...
  5. Housing Offices. ...
  6. Apartment Referral Services. ...
  7. Waiting Lists. ...
  8. Community Groups.

Where is the best place to rent in NYC? ›

Best Places to Rent a Home in New York City
  • Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
  • Lower East Side, Manhattan.
  • Park Slope, Brooklyn.
  • Sunnyside, Queens.
  • Washington Heights, Manhattan.
May 15, 2024

What is the best housing site? ›

The 7 Best Real Estate Websites of 2024
  • Best Overall: Zillow.
  • Most Accurate:
  • Best Mobile App: Trulia.
  • Best for Foreclosures:
  • Best for Renting:
  • Best for For Sale By Owner:
  • Best for Heroes: Homes for Heroes.

What to do if you can't afford rent in NYC? ›

The Department of Social Services (DSS), which includes both the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and the Human Resources Administration (HRA), can help you connect to rental assistance programs like CityFHEPS, and many other programs available through the State and Federal Government.

How to get an apartment in NYC with no credit? ›

Therefore, if you're renting an apartment in Manhattan or Brooklyn without credit, you will need to establish your credibility using a guardian's credit history. Once your parent or guardian is on board, your rental company will obtain their credit history via credit bureaus, NAIL, or a tenant screening device.

Where do low-income people live in New York? ›

Areas of high poverty show patterns of concentration.

The Poverty Rate map below shows that high-poverty Census tracts (shaded dark on the map) are clustered in the South Bronx, northern Manhattan, northwest Brooklyn, Coney Island, Williamsburg, and Borough Park.

How can I get my own apartment in NYC? ›

The following are a few general guidelines that apply in most cases:
  1. You will need to show an income of at least 40-50 times the monthly rent.
  2. You must show a secure and stable employment history.
  3. You must have good credit history. ( ...
  4. You must have a social security number. ...
  5. You must show a good rental history.

How to move with no money or job? ›

Tips for Moving Out with No Money
  1. Plan how much you need to spend on transportation, food, and rent.
  2. Move to a place that offers a relocation package.
  3. Sell your unwanted belongings.
  4. Set up a fundraising page to get extra money for your move.
  5. Get free moving supplies wherever you can.

Is it hard to get approved for an apartment in NYC? ›

All you'll have to do is submit the required paperwork and you should be approved fairly quickly. However, if you don't meet the income or credit requirements, getting approved can be quite hard and may require you to put up extra money, to get a guarantor, or to find a co-signer.

Do landlords pay broker fee in NYC? ›

A broker fee is a commission paid to an agent in return for assistance in the rental of a unit. In New York City, landlords often hire a broker to fill a vacancy and pass the cost of the broker onto the new tenant. Typically, a broker's fee will be 12-15% of the annual rent, but the state of New York does not cap fees.

Can I pay a referral fee to a non realtor NY? ›

Non-licensed individuals, however, cannot receive referral fees based on state and federal law.

Do I need a broker to buy a coop in NYC? ›

It is always a good idea to have a buyer's broker during an apartment or home purchase in NYC. You want to have a real estate broker that will act as your advocate during every step of the process.

Can you sell without a broker in NYC? ›

While it is absolutely possible to sell in NYC without an agent or broker, it isn't probable that you'll get the best market value if you do. In short, don't buy or sell without an agent. Properties listed as “For Sale By Owner” in New York City are rare, and are truly successful sales even less often.

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