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My roommate and I are applying for a new apartment and our salaries are lower this year—we’re working reduced hours due to Covid. Can we use one guarantor or do we each need our own?
Most New York City landlords require your income to be at least 40 times the monthly rent, and if you’re signing a lease with a roommate, your combined income will be considered. However, if your combined income isn’t enough, you will need a guarantor.
Typically, one guarantor is enough for roommates, but some landlords will specify whether every applicant needs their own guarantor or if only one will be accepted.
Victoria Vinokur, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens, says that in her experience, most landlords don’t care how many guarantors you have, and having more than one is usually up to you and your roommate.
But having your own guarantor can help in some cases, says Arik Lifshitz, CEO of DSA Property Group. If your guarantor is hesitant or doesn’t want to guarantee your roommate’s portion of the rent, your roommate getting their own guarantor can help. “It usually makes them feel better knowing both sides have something at risk.”
However, if both you and your roommate get your own guarantor, they would both still be jointly liable for the entire lease, so if you end up defaulting, both guarantors would be on the hook. And, more often than not, “one guarantor qualifies without the need for a second one,” Liftshitz says.
In order to be your guarantor, they must have a good credit score, make at least 75 to 90 times your monthly rent, and often live in the tri-state area. The idea is that if you default, they can afford to pay your rent and stay on top of their own financial obligations.
If neither of you have a personal guarantor, your next option is to use an institutional guarantor like Insurent (a Brick Underground sponsor). For you and your roommate to qualify for Insurent, you must have a minimum combined annual income of 27.5 times the monthly rent and decent or no credit or combined cash or marketable securities of a minimum of 50 times the monthly rent.
To apply for Insurent with a roommate, you both have to submit an application because you’re both bound to the lease. You will also both be responsible for paying a Insurent Guaranty fee, which is 65 to 90 percent of one month’s rent if you’re a U.S. citizen, and 90 to 110 percent if you’re from abroad and don’t have credit, for a 12- to 15- month lease.
So, while it can be tricky to get an apartment with your reduced income, you and your roommate do have some options if you use a guarantor.
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