The Market

Group apartment-hunting: What you need to know

By Lucy Cohen Blatter  | July 31, 2014 - 1:59PM

In Case You Missed It: Every so often, BrickUnderground digs through the archives to find the best advice our experts have shared through the years.

As if locking down a New York City rental isn't hard enough, doing it with roommates ups the difficulty quotient exponentially. Not only does everyone want something slightly different, but wrangling all parties to an apartment showing at once is its own hassle. 

Before you embark on your quest, brush up on the best way to apartment hunt as a group:

1. Pick a spokesperson. If you're working with a broker, designate one roommie to stay in touch with her. But once viewings are scheduled, make sure everyone shows up: New York City apartments get rented fast (especially during the busy summer season), so you don't want to waste time scheduling a second showing. Be prepared to apply to rent a place as soon as you see something worthwhile.

2. Look for flex-friendly buildings. It's perfectly common for several people to share an apartment in this city, but not all buildings look favorably on shares. Some landlords and management companies are opposed to the extra wear and tear on the apartment when, say, four adults squeeze into a space intended for one. Others are wary of their building taking on a college dorm atmosphere. One indication of whether a building is pro roommates is its policy on the use of temporary walls to subdivide and reconfigure a space. (More on temporary walls here.)

3. Meet the income requirements (or have a guarantor). Most landlords require tenants to earn an annual income of at least 40 to 45 times the monthly rent. For example, you'd need to make $160,000 a year to rent an apartment for $4,000 a month. Generally, roommates are allowed to combine their incomes to satisfy the requirement. But some landlords will only accept a maximum of two names on the lease and, thus, only two incomes to qualify.

Temporary walls like this one make it easy to configure an apartment into a roommate-friendly space--if your landlord allows it. (Photo credit: Room Dividers)

If it comes to that, most landlords will accept a guarantor, often a parent, who basically signs on to back the rent if you and your roommates fail to pay it. Usually, they need to make 80 times the monthly rent per year and must live within the tri-state area. 

4. Divide fees down the middle. Most roommates split the cost of the security deposit and broker’s fee equally, no matter how they split the rent. If one of the original roommates leaves, the fairest solution is for the person who takes the spot to “buy out” the original roommie’s security deposit.

For more, read the whole story, "BrickUnderground's 6-step guide to renting a NYC apartment with roommates"

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