Options for Short Term Rental Apartments
Short term rentals--sometimes available unfurnished, far more often in some sort of furnished state--can be ideal for a temporary housing solution, especially if you're not interested in living in (and paying the high rates for) a hotel room for weeks and months at a time. Short term refers to anything less than one year, which is the standard lease term in most areas of the country.
Who Needs Short Term Housing?
Job-related relocation and temporary corporate assignments are probably the most common reason people seek out short term rental apartments, furnished or otherwise, and some corporate apartments are furnished solely for companies to rent for new employees who are moving from another part of the country or the world, until they can find more permanent long term housing for themselves and their families.
People moving to a new city without a job lined up are other candidates for short term housing. Not being tied to a full one-year lease gives you flexibility in case things don't work out, or you don't like the area. It also allows you to get to know the city before committing to a longer term lease.
People traveling on business, who will be gone for an extended period of time (say several weeks or months), often are in the market for an apartment. Another possibility would be someone who does short trips, but travels several times a month to the same location. Not only can staying in a corporate apartment be more comfortable than a hotel room, it can also be cheaper.
Other examples of people needing apartments for a short term include people temporarily displaced while their apartment undergoes renovation. This is more likely to happen to apartment dwellers, who have less space than those with large suburban homes. Or in cases where the "renovation" was triggered by something like a fire, that destroyed the entire unit.
Most landlords in cities like NYC, where there is high demand (and prices) for housing, do not offer apartments on a short-term basis. Generally, the market for 1 year leases is strong enough that they don't feel the need to offer the apartment for a lesser period of time. This is understandable... if you were a landlord, would you prefer to have to find a new tenant every couple of months, or find one who will stay the entire year? The New York Times had a good article, entitled The Long Ordeal of Landing a Short-Term Rental that illustrates the difficulty of find short term rental apartments in NYC.
You should also note that there is a law recently passed in New York City that makes it illegal to rent short term apartments for fewer than 30 days, unless the establishment in question is defined as a hotel.
Some areas that have high college student populations offer 9 month leases that correspond with the school year. Of course, those leases usually come with a premium on the rent, so that the landlord recoups at least some of the lost rent from the summer months, in the event they are unable to rent the apartment during those months.
Short Term Options
Short Term Leases - Basically, this could be a lease for less than a year (often 3, 6 or 9 months), or a month-to-month situation. The apartments may come unfurnished, partially furnished, or fully furnished. Partially- or semi-furnished short term rental apartments may come furnished with the basic, bigger pieces that make a home livable—a bed, a table, a sofa, a dresser—but it's all pretty bare bones, and these sorts of apartments tend to be rented to non-corporate clients. Students and others in a transition period in their lives often find partially furnished apartments to be ideal for their traveling-light lifestyle.
When a short term rental listing says simply "furnished apartments for rent", you can usually expect all the furniture to be in place: a bed, a couch, dressers, a dining table, as well as a television and DVD player, lamps and side tables, rugs and sometimes artwork. Furnished short term rental apartments such as these are usually the minimum required by corporate renters for temporarily housing their relocating employees, but these sorts of rental apartments—as well as the semi-furnished apartments discussed above--are also fairly common in longer-term rental apartments that are within someone's home, such as in the basement, or that take up the first floor of a brownstone.
Corporate Apartments - There are the short term rental apartments that come "fully furnished", which, in addition to all furnishings from beds to TVs, also include linens and towels and bedding, all kitchen- and glassware (from utensils and plates and wine glasses to pots and pans), and appliances such as a microwave and a coffeemaker. These fully-furnished short term rentals are the most common sort of corporate apartments.
Check out our special page to learn more about corporate housing.
Sublets - A sublet apartment is one in which the primary leaseholder is subleasing his or her apartment to you. You pay your rent to the tenant, and the tenant is responsible for paying the landlord. These apartments may or may not be furnished, and the length of time they are available can vary considerably.
We've created a separate page where you can find out everything you need to know about subletting an apartment.
How To Rent a Short Term Apartment
1.) Decide if you need a short term lease, corporate apartment, or sublet.
Deciding which option works best for you will help make your search go easier. Different types of apartments can be found in different ways/media. If you're looking for a sublet, or a corporate apartment, read our apartment guide pages on those types of situations before proceeding.
2.) Talk to family, friends, co-workers, etc.
No matter what you're looking for, it never hurts to ask family, friends, co-workers, etc. Granted, this is may be difficult when moving to a new city, but you never know who "a friend of a friend" knows. Social media can be great for this. If you work in an industry where you deal with outside clients, vendors, etc. don't hesitate to ask them. Many of them have business connections in a variety of cities.
If this is a corporate relocation, make sure you negotiate temporary housing as part of your relocation package (if at all possible). If you're moving for your current company, it most likely will be part of the package when offered to you. Some companies may require you to do the legwork, but give you a budget. Others will make all of the arrangements for you.
3.) Look online for short term housing options
Many (but not all) websites will include listings for short term apartments. Some websites (such as Craigslist and Apartment Guide) will have a separate section, which makes things easier. In other cases, using the advanced search tools will allow you to narrow the listings only to short term situations. If a site doesn't offer these options, they may still have short term listings, it just makes your job a little harder. In those instances you have to rely on looking for key words or phrases in the ads (mainly: short term, sublet, flexible lease terms, etc.) to make that indication for you. However, I would use these sites as a last resort. In our experience, if the website doesn't have a separate section, or allow you to search specifically for, short term apartments and/or sublets, then you are not likely to find many of those listings on the site.
Some companies specialize in corporate apartments. If that is what you're looking for, I would go straight to one of those sites first, and only branch out to others if you can't find something suitable. Several national companies have apartments in numerous cities across the country, aimed at the corporate client. Many cities also have local companies that handle short term corporate clients. Google is your friend in seeking both types of companies.
4.) Employ the services of a corporate relocation firm, or broker
This is not for those looking for a sublet. If you have the budget for (our, better yet, your company is paying for it), using a corporate relocation specialist, or a broker with access to a number of corporate apartments, can be a time saver. However, keep in mind they don't come cheap (ask about their fees upfront). again, Google is a great way to find relocation companies.
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