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I guess this is part-rant and part-question - is it normal for a complex to take 3 days to process a rental application and let you know it was approved? is it normal to be told to just call the complex "a few days" before I'm back in town so they can prepare the paperwork and for them to not tell me what all I need to bring with me to sign the paper work and what all I'll be paying for that day? is it reasonable to review and sign a lease and move-in to an apartment in one day?

It really depends - I could tell you stories about the NYC renting process that would make your hair stand on end. But for most complexes in most normal places, I think 3 days is pretty normal. A lot of complexes check references and check your credit report - which they could probably do in 1 day, but 3 days isn't outrageous.

And signing the lease and moving in on the same day is pretty normal too. If you're worried about the lease, they should be willing to fax you a copy (although they'll probably want you to sign it in person). But most leases are boilerplate. There's not much to review.

However, they should tell you what you'll need to pay. That should be standard - security deposit, possibly a rental fee, plus first month's rent. They should have no problem telling you how much the security deposit will be.

As far as what you need to bring - probably nothing except maybe an ID. (And your check.) The last time I rented a normal apartment, I walked in, gave them a check, signed the lease, and they gave me the key. Took about 2 minutes. Some complexes require you to turn on the electricity in advance - others don't care. You'll need to find out about utilities so you can establish accounts and fix a turn-on date. But that's pretty much it.

I've been too jaded by the NY rental market to say whether you should look elsewhere or not. You could have just caught the manager at a bad time - or it could be a sign of future problems (i.e. problems getting repairs done, hassles over security deposits, etc.) Did you talk to any other tenants when you were in town?

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