Most rents include heat and hot water, but tenants usually pay for electricity and cable service.

Question: I am moving to New York City in April, and I’m wondering if the rent listed on your site is the final price I have to pay per month for the apartment — or if there is an additional fee being added each month or once a year, for example, for the heating or warm water. I’m interested in apartments for two people. How much should I calculate for water, electricity, etc.?

— Broadway Bound

Dear Broadway:


In New York City, it’s pretty much what you see is what you get.

Landlords are required to supply heat and water, so there are rarely extra charges for those. Most landlords provide gas, and a few even include electricity — especially in older buildings where there is just one meter. (Which is good, because electricity in NYC is not cheap.) Ask.

Most listings will indicate what is included in the rent. With one possible exception: If your apartment rent includes electricity, the landlord might charge you an extra $50 or so a month through the summer if you use a window air conditioner. In any case, everything — and who is paying for it — should be outlined in your lease.

With that matter mostly settled, you should recognize two financial slights of hand that are common in New York:

Beware of the “net effective rent” gambit. That’s when a landlord advertises a too-good-to-be-true rent and then reveals in the fine print that you’re getting a month of free rent but the actual rent you pay will be higher. Say the landlord is having trouble renting a place for $2,400 a month. So he drops the advertised price to $2,200*. The asterisk leads you to the fine print, explaining that you’ll be paying $2,400 a month but will get a month free at the end of the lease.

If you use a broker to find an apartment, know what you’re getting into. Apartment brokers in New York are paid by the renter, not the landlord. And the fee can be quite high: 15 percent of the first year’s rent is typical. So in addition to your first and last month rent and a security deposit, be prepared to shell out the equivalent of nearly two more months of rent to the broker.

Now, the second part of your question: How much can you expect to pay for utilities? If you must cover everything — electricity, gas, heat and water — you should expect to pay less than $200 a month for an apartment housing two people. You can find a cable-internet-telephone promotion package for less than $100 a month.

David Crook is a veteran journalist and author of The Complete Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Investing and Homeowner’s Guidebooks. Do you have a question about anything real estate-related in NYC? Write him at For verification purposes, please include your name and a phone number; neither will be published. Note: Nothing in this column should be considered professional legal advice. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.

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