How many times can it be said? The New York real estate market is unlike any other. One way that it fulfills this maxim is with the frequent requirement for a guarantor, usually a close friend or relative who agrees to pay the rent if the main renter doesn’t. There are a few scenarios where a New York City landlord will require a renter to have a co-signer on their apartment lease.
The most common need for a guarantor occurs when a renter’s income doesn’t meet the requirement of making 40 times the annual rent. To put this in perspective, to rent an $1,800 a month apartment, your documented income would need to be at least $72,000. New arrivals to the city are often just starting their professional careers, and may not yet make — or didn’t make on their taxes in a previous year — enough money.
As well, an applicant may have credit issues (low credit score, etc.) that will disqualify him or her for many apartments. Some landlords will only rent to applicants with 12 continuous months of work history at the same company, so moving to the city for a new job can spur the need for a guarantor.
Then there’s the issue of citizenship. Renters who are not U.S. citizens will likely not have local credit histories or have paid U.S. taxes, two scenarios that can make a landlord nervsou. In order to feel comfortable renting to a new tenant, landlords usually want to see U.S. credit-worthiness, have a way to verify an applicant’s most recent housing situation and see the paper trail of someone’s job history. As such, for foreign renters in the New York market, the need for a U.S.-based representative to act as a guarantor or some other type of rental assurance is almost certain.
The good news is that your real estate agent will act as an intermediary between the landlord or management company and the qualified guarantor (often a parent in the case of U.S. citizens), but you’ll still have to find one yourself and convince them to be held responsible if you go AWOL. The guarantor is required to make at least 80 times the monthly rent in annual income and has to provide all of the same documents — including a completed application — as a prospective tenant, since his or her name will be on the lease too. Many guarantors find the financial documentation required for a rental in New York to be intrusive. Your agent should take on the responsibility of explaining the process and competitive nature of New York real estate to your guarantor and the necessity of their involvement to making the deal happen.
If a guarantor is not available, there are other ways to get yourself into your dream apartment. The first and historically most effective means is cash. Offering to pay additional security up front is a good way to turn the conversation to your advantage. A foreign applicant or someone with credit issues who offers to pay three, six, or 12 months of rent up front is usually able to rent just about anything.
Another option for those who can’t find a guarantor is rental insurance company, such as Insurent.com. For a percentage of annual rent, these companies will serve as a de facto guarantor.