Realty Bites

Can my 401(k) help me qualify for a NYC rental?

By Austin Havens-Bowen  |
July 22, 2021 - 1:30PM

Liquid funds like savings accounts and stock portfolios are a better way to show that you’re qualified for an apartment.


I’m applying for a rental and was asked to submit a 401(k) statement with my application. Why would a landlord want to see this?

Your landlord was likely asking to see what’s in your 401(k) account to determine whether you have funds to cover your rent, but it is an unusual request because you can get hit with penalties for making an early withdrawal.

Liquid funds like savings accounts and stock portfolios are a better way to show that you’re qualified for an apartment, says Arik Lifshitz, CEO of DSA Property Group. 

However if you have a significant amount in your 401(k), like $1,000,000, and you have good credit, it might help you qualify if your salary and other assets are just under the requirements, Lifshitz says. Landlords typically want to see renters earn an annual salary of at least 40 times the monthly rent.

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On the other hand, you may have reached an age where you can make withdrawal without facing a penalty, which is 59 and a half. Michael J. Franco, a broker at Compass, says that scenario is the only time he’s seen a landlord ask to see a 401(k) statement. 

But if you’re not that old, showing what’s in your 401(k) helps paint a fuller picture of your financial situation, says Steven Gottlieb, a broker at Warburg Realty.  

Bill Kowalczuk, a broker at Warburg Realty, says that it’s also a way to show that you are responsible enough to save money. “A 401(k) shows a little restraint,” he says. 

That restraint is important because the penalties for dipping into your 401(k) early are painful: The IRS generally holds 20 percent for taxes and you will have to pay a 10 percent penalty according to NerdWallet.



Austin Havens-Bowen

Staff Writer

Staff writer Austin Havens-Bowen covers the rental market and answers renters' questions in a column called Realty Bites. He previously reported on local news for the Queens Ledger and The Hunts Point Express in the Bronx. He graduated from Hunter College with a BA in media studies. He rents a one-bedroom apartment in Astoria with his boyfriend and their two cats.

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