As we all know, living in New York City is not cheap. Our great city falls at the very top of every list for the most expensive places to live… ever. The cost of living here will drain your pockets in the blink of an eye. Trust me, we know from experience. Not only is it difficult to maintain a money-conscious lifestyle but it is nearly impossible to obtain an apartment for a decent price (whatever that number means to you). Only a few months ago, one of our writers moved from the suburbs to Brooklyn with a couple of friends and continued to run into the same issues that many others trying to live in the city experience: the dreaded guarantor situation. She never recall having so much trouble with strict criteria enforced by landlords in college, but it soon became very clear that New York City was an entirely different playing field. As much as this may stress you out, don’t worry. We have outlined the ins and outs of having a guarantor in NYC to help you overcome any obstacles you may be faced with if you’re moving to NYC.
What Is a Guarantor and Why Might I Need One?
Writers at RentHop gave the easiest definition of a guarantor in NYC. According to them, “A guarantor is a trusted person that legally agrees to assist as a backup in case you default on your rent payments.” That being said, just because someone co-signs as your guarantor does not mean it is synonymous with co-signing your lease. Your guarantor will not be listed as a roommate, just someone the landlord can count on if you were to default on your monthly rent payments. Though, this is only after the landlord tries every means of collection from the tenant. Just because you do not pay your rent for a month or two does not mean that money will be immediately withdrawn out of your guarantor’s account. The landlord seeks out funds from the guarantor only as a last resort.
Like we said before, renting in NYC is rough because of the strict criteria implemented by landlords. You will usually need to show an income of 40-50x the rent, proof of a secure job and stable employment history, a credit score of above 500-600, a social security number, rental history, a piece of writing for each individual criterion, and W2 forms. This sounds like a lot because it is. A lot of people do not meet these standards (don’t feel bad if you don’t because I didn’t either), so in this case, they will need a guarantor.
Who Do I Ask to Be My Guarantor?
A guarantor holds a lot of responsibility, so it is never easy to go about these conversations. You need to ask someone with who you have mutual trust because in the case that you are unable to pay your rent, they are responsible. Guarantors are usually family members or friends that you have a good enough relationship with where you are comfortable asking them to sign. It is crucial that they also fit the criteria and maybe even go slightly above and beyond what the landlord is asking for. A lot of landlords will be very picky with who they choose to accept in a guarantor situation. They want to cover their financial bases as much as possible and don’t want to be left in any sort of tricky predicament. It can seem unfair because not everyone has family members or friends with the finances or history to sign for them. So now what?
What Are the Requirements of a Guarantor?
First, if you are going to be living in NYC, your guarantor must live in either New York or the surrounding states. For example, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, etc. So, if you have a relative in Washington State that is offering, it, unfortunately, will not work. There are some cases where a landlord will accept a guarantor in a further state, but it is not very likely. Next, your guarantor has to have a credit score of usually over 700. This means that they also cannot have any recent defaults, bankruptcies, or collection amounts.
Your guarantor must also have an income of 80-100x the rent. This is much more than a tenant requirement, but your landlord has to make sure they are able to pay without issue if you are unable to. Then, after all these things are met, your guarantor will have to submit proof of the same documents we discussed earlier in order to be either accepted or denied.
Roommates and Guarantors
Make sure that you ask your landlord if they are able to accept more than one guarantor. This way if you plan on having roommates and they also need a guarantor; they will be able to co-sign with no issue. There is a chance that your landlord will not allow more than one guarantor or will not allow a guarantor to be allocated to a specific person on the lease, so we recommend talking to your roommates about a document on the side. For example, my roommate and I both have our own guarantor. However, if I default on my payments then the landlord can go after both guarantors on the lease even though I do not know my roommate’s guarantor personally. So, our guarantors have a legally binding document between the two of them states they are only responsible for the person that they signed under. This way there are no issues in the future.
What Do I Do If I Can’t Find A Guarantor?
Our writer, Carly, was put in a situation where she thought she would not be able to secure a guarantor. She had to scramble and find other options because her clock was ticking and her job in NYC started sooner than she thought. Fortunately, she was able to find a guarantor by working with a company. Confused? Don’t be. There are a lot of companies that will sign as your guarantor for a fee. Usually, these companies will require a fee of an allocated number that matches up with your rent. So, for example, some request five to ten percent of your annual rent, and others will ask for eighty to ninety percent. There are so many that it is best to do your own research in finding the company that suits your needs. We recommend doing a Google search to see which will be best for you financially and will also meet your desired landlords’ criteria. Situations differ, so just make sure you have all your ducks in a row!
Carly is a freelance writer with interest in topics pertaining to lifestyle blogging, social justice, and anything to do with film/media. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a degree in English & Literary studies in hopes to write for a large music publication. When she is not writing, you can find her watching movies, cooking her famous Carbonara, and enjoying time outdoors.