Initial money owed
When you put in your application, you'll need to pay an application fee, a credit check authorization fee, and you'll likely pay a deposit. If your application is denied, you'll get the deposit back, but not the application and credit authorization fee.
IMPORTANT: If you hand over cash to your agent or the landlord, get a receipt!
The application and credit check authorization fees
These two charges are sometimes grouped together or broken out into two separate charges. The combined fees will run you $60 - $150 per person for a rental building, and $300-$1,500 for condos and co-ops. Every person on the lease needs to pay the fees, so if you're applying with a roommate, you both need to pay. The cost covers the expense of running a credit check, verifying employment, rental history and more.
Deposits (aka Good-Faith Deposit)
To take an apartment off the market while your application is run, the landlord might ask for a deposit from several hundred dollars to the cost of one month's rent. If your app is approved, the deposit is applied to your security deposit. If you're denied, or conditionally approved, you get the money back. But be careful, if you back out after being approved, AND conveyed to the landlord you would take the apartment if approved (there was a "meeting of the minds"), then the landlord can keep the deposit. And remember, good-faith deposits should only go to landlords, not brokers. If there’s any question about whether you are rightfully owed your deposit, submit a complaint here: http://www.dos.ny.gov/forms/licensing/1507-f.pdf.
Be prepared to pay
Regular checks, cash and credit cards are rarely accepted, so be prepared and get a certified bank or travelers check in advance. Have your bank create two different checks in amounts big enough to cover the anticipated costs of the fees and the deposit. If you pay with cash, make sure to get a receipt from your agent or the landlord.
Is an application pending? Submit a backup app!
If someone beats you to the apartment, you can still submit a backup application in case the first application gets rejected. Just make sure the landlord isn't going to run a credit check unless the other application falls through. And make sure to get the fee refunded if the other application goes through.