The Market

Embarking on the apartment search with roommates? Here's what you need to know

By Leah Hochbaum Rosner | May 21, 2015 - 4:15PM

With rents as high as they are in NYC, a roommate or two (or even three or four) may be a must post-college (and beyond) if you want to be able to afford even a semi-decent place. But do you know how to play well with others? Here are some tips for how to manage an apartment search with roomies:

  • Choose a spokesman: Since it can be hard to coordinate the schedules of two or more roommates when you’re in search of a vacant apartment, one of you needs to take charge. Select one ambassador to talk to the landlord or broker if you’re using one. Your spokesperson should bring all essential application information for all renters (and guarantors if you need them) to every showing, even if the other roommates can’t make it.
  • Find a flex-friendly building: Does the building allow temporary walls? If the answer’s yes, then management probably doesn’t mind you trying to squeeze four people into a space built for two. But check in advance, as many buildings that used to allow these don't anymore.
  • Find the best layout: Railroad apartments might be among the most affordable, but you usually have to walk through one of the bedrooms to get to the bathroom—not the best set-up for roommates. Better bets include a junior 1 (a studio with a sleeping alcove), a junior 4 (a one-bedroom with a dining area), a flex-two-bedroom and a true two-bedroom.
  • Line up a guarantor: Many landlords require that renters earn an annual income of 40 times the monthly rent. Roommates are usually allowed to combine their incomes to reach this requirement, but if they still fall short, you’re going to need a guarantor. However, most landlords will accept only one. So even if there are four roommates, you’ll need to find a single individual willing to guarantee rent from all four of you. If you can’t find someone willing to do that, you should offer a larger security deposit of four to six months’ rent instead. You can also look into Insurent, an institutional guarantor (and Brick sponsor) who can guarantee the entire lease for a fee of around one month's rent.
  • Get your credit checked: A landlord is going to run a credit check for each and every roommate—regardless of whether or not their names will appear on the lease. And one person’s bad credit can and will ruin things for everyone. So you would be wise to run your credit report before starting your search so that you can clear up any issues early on.

For more read, “BrickUnderground’s 6-step guide to renting a NYC apartment with roommates.”

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.


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