Whether you're seeking your first apartment, or your tenth, the search process has a way of making you feel unprepared. Maybe it's the ambiguous language of cragslist ads, the unfamilar jargon of brokers, or the sheer number of apartments you're forced to sift through, but after just a few stress-filled weeks into the hunt, your cramped studio can suddenly seem good enough. Staying where you are or settling isn't the answer—you can do better.

Alicia Schwartz, co-founder of rental ratings start-up Rentenna.com, is experienced in the art of stress-free apartment searches. Her experience as a successful rental broker in New York City led to her to becoming the New York Times rental expert and creating HowToRentinNYC.com. Here, Alicia reveals what renters need to know to before signing anything, and how a little reseach can lead to securing your dream crib.

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