No co-signer for your rental? Here are 6 guarantor work-arounds for your NYC apartment
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No co-signer for your rental? No problem—try these 6 guarantor workarounds

  • Most landlords require co-signers to make 75 to 80 times the monthly rent and reside in the tri-state area
  • Rent guarantee insurance is available in case you lose your job and is usually rolled into your monthly rent
Freelance journalist and editor Evelyn Battaglia
By Evelyn Battaglia  |
June 27, 2024 - 1:30PM
brooklyn apartments

If you don't have a family member who can act as a co-signer, you can pay an institutional guarantor to take on that role.


To rent an apartment in New York City, you need to demonstrate that you can reliably pay your rent, usually with a combination of good credit and an annual salary of 40 to 45 times the monthly rent. That can be an impossible hurdle to clear, given NYC's notoriously sky-high rents. In that case, you'll need to find a co-signer—someone who will be on the lease with you and, therefore, fully liable for any unpaid rent—or a guarantor who agrees to pay the rent if you don't.

In NYC, co-signers and guarantors are generally required to have a credit score of at least 700 and an annual income of 75 to 80 times the monthly rent. They often must reside in the tri-state area (New York, Connecticut, or New Jersey) to be within easy suing distance if something goes wrong. Some landlords will only accept guarantors who are NY residents for the same reason. 

[Editor's note: An earlier version of this article ran in June 2023. It has been updated with new information for June 2024.]

Many renters look first to their parents or other older relatives to serve as guarantors. If they're retired or lacking a steady income, they likely won't be acceptable to a landlord. While friends or employers can also guarantee a rental, non-relatives are frequently reluctant to shoulder the financial liability if you or a roommate defaults.

In lieu of a guarantor, it used to be possible to pay several months of rent in advance, which was helpful for those with shaky credit or renters with lower incomes but money in the bank. However, this option was taken off the table a few years ago with the passage of major renter protection laws aimed at reducing the upfront costs of securing an apartment in New York. It’s now illegal for a landlord to take prepaid rent and/or additional security on top of the typical one-month security

Don't despair: Here are six options to explore if you can't find a guarantor or co-signer:

1. Hire a third-party guarantor

If you don’t have a family member or friend who can act as a guarantor or co-signer, you can pay a third-party guarantor to take on that role. These institutional guarantors have income requirements that are significantly less strict than landlords' 40-times rent rule and are accepted by thousands of buildings across the city—a trend that accelerated during the pandemic. The one-time cost for this is generally equal to one month's rent.

"We're seeing an increase in third-party guarantors to levels we've never seen before," said Adam Frisch, managing principal at Mantus Real Estate, a brokerage firm. "It’s a change that’s here to stay."

2. Offer to pay a higher rent

Paying a higher rent might be difficult to stomach, but it may encourage a landlord concerned about the risks of renting to you if you have no credit history.

It is not unheard of for renters to offer to pay a higher rent to secure an apartment; in fact, bidding wars are happening in the current red-hot rental market.

It’s also possible renters may find that an advertised rent goes up in response to an applicant’s credit score.

Frisch says renters will likely see more of this in the future. “If someone just graduated and doesn’t want to—or can’t—use their parents as guarantors, we will let them take the apartment for an extra $100 in rent," he said.

3. Opt for a sublet (or become the new roomie)

There are definite pros and cons of living in a place where your name is not on the primary lease, but one major "pro" is you might not have to go through the income qualification gauntlet. Heads up, however: If you are subletting in a co-op or condo, expect a board interview. 

There are lots of listing sites advertising sublets as well as short-term rentals. There are sites that will also help you find a roommate arrangement, too. 

Just make sure the building allows the sublet, especially if it's a co-op. You are also encouraged to sign a lease with the tenant, even if it's someone you know and trust. 

Pro Tip:

Don't have a guarantor? The rental experts at The Agency, a Brick Underground partner, can help you navigate the market and find a great apartment to rent without one. Sign up here to take advantage of The Agency's corporate relocation rate—where you'll pay a broker's fee of 10 percent of a year's rent on open listings instead of the usual 12 to 15 percent. Bonus: The agents at The Agency are a delight to deal with.

What to do when you don't have a co-signer
Hire a third-party guarantor
  • Institutional guarantors have income requirements that are significantly less strict than landlords' 40X rent rule.
  • They are accepted by thousands of buildings across the city.
  • The one-time fee is typically rolled into the monthly rent.

Offer to pay
higher rent

  • This may encourage a landlord concerned about the risks of renting to someone with no credit history.
  • It’s also possible renters may find that an advertised rent goes up in response to an applicant’s credit score.
  • One broker said recent graduates who don't have personal guarantors can pay $100 more in rent. 
Go with a sublet or
co-living company
  • If you sublet you may avoid the usual financial scrutiny, though you may be interviewed by the board if you sublet in a co-op or condo building.
  • Some co-living companies also have more relaxed credit/income requirements.
  • In both cases, you'll want to make sure the rental is legit—for example, no basement or windowless bedrooms. 

4. Go with a co-living company

Co-living companies—like Cohabs, Common, and Outpost Club—offer the convenience of a furnished apartment and instant roommates—all for one monthly payment. Many companies vet tenants the same way traditional landlords do, with background checks and credit/income qualifications, but you some places are less strict than others. Some (such as Roomrs) feature flexible lease terms, too, which are very much in demand. 

One important consideration, however, is the validity of the operation. You don’t want to find your unit abruptly shut down, as happened to hundreds of co-living tenants a few years ago. You should know it’s illegal to rent a single room in a co-living space—all roommates need to be on a lease for the entire apartment. You'll also want to do some due diligence on the company to make sure it is legit, and the unit is properly set up for fire safety. What's more, basement and windowless bedrooms are not legal—or safe.

5. Get insurance that guarantees your rent

A relatively new kind of insurance will pay your rent if you lose your job. It's called rent guarantee, and it is considered job-loss protection for which you pay a monthly fee. Rent guarantee insurance is typically obtained by landlords, so you may start to see it mentioned in listings. Landlords can roll it into the monthly rent, and if you're asked to pay for it, the amount needs to be spelled out in the lease. 

Keep in mind that by guaranteeing your rent, you lose your ability to withhold rent if a landlord isn’t fixing things, which is important leverage over a negligent owner.

6. Shop around for the right landlord

This can be tough in the already exhausting process of apartment hunting, but you'll stand a better chance of finding a landlord who is willing to work with your particular set of circumstances—especially if you can swing moving in during the slower winter months. Be upfront with your broker and any landlords you contact about your situation. 

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—Earlier versions of this article contained reporting and writing by Virginia K. Smith and Emily Myers.

Freelance journalist and editor Evelyn Battaglia

Evelyn Battaglia

Contributing Writer

Freelance journalist and editor Evelyn Battaglia has been immersed in all things home—decorating, organizing, gardening, and cooking—for over two decades, notably as an executive editor at Martha Stewart Omnimedia, where she helped produce many best-selling books. As a contributing writer at Brick Underground, Evelyn specializes in deeply reported only-in-New-York renovation topics brimming with real-life examples and practical advice.

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