Affording a rental apartment in New York City can be next to impossible for some newcomers, particularly those who prefer to rent alone and recent college graduates without much credit history or employment. With NYC’s strict income requirements (earning a salary that’s 40 to 50 times the monthly rent), it’s not uncommon for renters to seek assistance to qualify for an apartment. Enter “the guarantor.” Read on to get your questions answered.
What Is a Guarantor?What Is a Guarantor?
A guarantor is someone who cosigns a lease and guarantees that the tenant will pay the rent on time and in full each month. If the tenant doesn’t pay the rent, the guarantor’s responsibility is to update payments.
Can Anyone Be a Guarantor?Can Anyone Be a Guarantor?
A guarantor is usually a parent or close relative, but they must earn 80, depending on the building, as much as 100 times the monthly rent. For example, if the monthly rent is $2,500, a guarantor must earn a minimum of $200,000 to qualify as a guarantor on the lease. Some landlords require that a guarantor lives in the tri-state area too.
What Are They Responsible For?What Are They Responsible For?
Guaranteeing a lease is a substantial financial commitment. The guarantor is responsible for paying the total rent through the end of the lease. Suppose several people are sharing an apartment, and a guarantor signed to guarantee one tenant’s rent, and another tenant can’t make his share of the rent. In that case, the guarantor is also responsible for covering the other tenant’s share of the rent. For this reason, someone considering becoming a guarantor should carefully evaluate the situation before deciding to sign on the dotted line. It’s best to know the people’s credit history on the lease before getting involved as a guarantor.
What Does a Guarantor Have to Provide to be Approved?What Does a Guarantor Have to Provide to be Approved?
The guarantor will need the same documents as the renter, including proof of employment, income tax returns, bank statements, and personal references.
If Someone Signs on to be a Guarantor, Will the Landlord Contact them if The Rent is Late?If Someone Signs on to be a Guarantor, Will the Landlord Contact them if The Rent is Late?
One would think that the landlord would want to be paid as soon as possible and reach out to the guarantor, but that doesn’t always happen. Often the landlord does the opposite and ignores the issue, so the situation escalates, and the rent goes unpaid for months. A guarantor should set the guidelines early on, establish a relationship with the landlord, and open the lines of communication. A guarantor should ask the landlord to contact him if the rent is more than certain days late. Otherwise, $2,500 could turn into $25,000.
Besides Family or a Close Friend, Who else can be a Guarantor?Besides Family or a Close Friend, Who else can be a Guarantor?
Some companies will guarantee rent for a percentage of the rent, but only if the renter has excellent credit. Insurent Lease Guaranty requires that a renter’s or combined renters’ annual income be 27.5 times the rent or that the tenant or tenants have 50 times the rent in a savings account.
How to Find One and AlternativesHow to Find One and Alternatives
The search for your first apartment to rent in NYC can belong, and even if you find that dream NYC apartment, you’ll still need to prove that you can pay for it. For many young people, especially students burdened with debt, meeting the strict criteria from landlords in NYC is not a straightforward affair. Most landlords want to see a high credit score or a salary of 40-45 times the monthly payment. Something which is beyond the means of many New Yorkers, both newbies and natives alike. A co-signer usually steps in during these situations, but that presents another set of difficulties and won’t be a viable option for everyone.
What is a Co-signer?What is a Co-signer?
A co-signer, or guarantor, is someone who cosigns your lease and agrees to pay the rent if you can’t. The typical requirements are a credit score of at least 700 or, if you don’t have that, an annual income of 90 times the monthly rent and residence in the tri-state area.
Most people first look to family to serve as guarantors, but this can be a severe roadblock if they don’t meet the criteria. Fortunately, there are some ways around this.
Alternative 1: Offer extra cash upfrontAlternative 1: Offer extra cash upfront
Depending on how much security the landlord requires, you may want to pay a year’s rent. You can get around the requirements with some landlords by offering more money upfront. Other landlords may prefer a hefty security deposit rather than additional months. When it’s time to renew, and you’ve been a responsible tenant, you may be able to negotiate a “burndown” on the deposit where you would get a month or two back.
Alternative 2: Hire a guarantorAlternative 2: Hire a guarantor
This is a standard route for foreign renters with no U.S credit history. A company like Insurent can do this for you.
The guarantor needs to be in-state more often than not, making this option useful. For U.S citizens with credit history, the rates are usually 75-80% of a month’s rent. International renters with no credit history can be 100-110%. For students with debt, you may pay more than 85%. However, if you have a steady job with a large company, you may pay less.
Alternative 3: Sublet or become a roomieAlternative 3: Sublet or become a roomie
If you can’t meet the requirements or offer any extra cash upfront, you can always choose a sublet. No one likes to stay in a place where their name is not on the lease, but it may be your only option if you can avoid the financial requirements this way. It’s straightforward to find sublets these days through Lease break and Flip sites. You can also find a roommate through sites such as Symbi and Diggz.
Alternative 4: Build your creditAlternative 4: Build your credit
Even with these workarounds, it’s good to take time to improve your credit score so you can avoid this problem in the future. With better credit comes better interest rates and more secure financing the next time you need a loan.
Start by getting a secured credit card or installment plan. With a secured credit card, you will typically make a cash deposit to the credit card issuer to serve as collateral. Your credit limit is either equal to or a percentage of your deposit. Keep your credit card balance as low as possible, say, 30% or less.
When possible, pay more than the minimum monthly payment on the rent. Paying just the minimum amount each month can be a red flag to lenders and damage your credit score. Don’t close old accounts that are no longer in use, as your credit history is essential in determining your credit score.