Live/Work Space in Brooklyn?
November 14, 2010 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Moving to Brooklyn, and have some specific questions about how to go about finding the right space and then actually renting it. Help, NYC Mefites!

I'm part-owner of a start-up company. My co-founder, his wife and I are going to rent a large-ish space in Brooklyn from mid-December or January to serve as office for the company and living space for the three of us.

We will be able to afford to spend about $4000/month between the three of us and the company; however, we don't have the documentation to prove this, as my co-founder and I haven't been receiving paychecks.

We are incredibly presentable, all have good credit, and my co-founder's wife will be able to easily guarantee $2000/month of the total rent with her paycheck. My co-founder has a good amount of money in a personal bank account, and the company has some money in the bank as well.

Does anyone have any recommendations for particular brokers or tips for how to find a great place in this situation? I understand that it's legal to have up to one person living in a place who is not on the lease; does anyone have experience with this?

Any tips, from the most specific to the most vague, will be greatly appreciated. Cheers!
posted by nosila to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've lived in New York for over a decade and have never been on a lease. Including one live/work space. I don't think that should be a problem.

Because of that, I don't have direct experience of dealing with proof of income and guarantors and the like. Though, yes, you will probably all have to provide documentation to this effect, and if you can't provide evidence that you will be able to easily cover the rent, you'll probably need outside guarantors.

One thing to keep in mind when looking for spaces like that is proximity to public transit. Many of the areas with available live/work spaces are in industrial areas that have traditionally not been well connected to the transit grid. Which can be a problem if you're trying to do a live/work thing in order to save money.

Another tip that doesn't answer any specific question - you may have better luck looking in Long Island City, Queens - or at least expanding your base of potential neighborhoods to include that.
posted by Sara C. at 2:06 PM on November 14, 2010

The less you are able to prove your income (or, the less income you are able to prove,) the more you have to put down at once, if the landlord agrees to let you live there at all. A friend of mine just had to drop six months of rent to secure her apartment.
posted by griphus at 2:35 PM on November 14, 2010

Is this space zoned for living? And also for whatever your company does?
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:17 PM on November 14, 2010

Response by poster: Obscure Reference - we don't have a particular space in mind yet. We're just trying to get a broad sense about what we might need to be concerned with.

The company is a tech start-up, so we're not going to have a lot of traffic coming in and out. It's very possible that we really don't need an official live/work space.
posted by nosila at 3:56 PM on November 14, 2010

The lease is not an issue. You can have as many people on the lease at once as you want, generally; more people for them to go after for money. They also are not going to come into your place and scare you up and figure out how many people are living there unless it's a problem. There are also no laws AGAINST having x number of people living in a space as long as you don't exceed capacity and that depends on the size of the place.

We just got a lease on an acceptable live/work space big enough for 5 people and a small business, storefront and all. Much less than 3k, but not in the world's most accesible neighborhood. After 3k, you have a lot more options. Things get signifigantly nicer.

They let all 5 of us on the lease. We were on craigslist for all of 3 days before we found it.

Keep your eye out. With a 4k budget I don't think you need a broker as much as you need to keep your eye on craigslist, have a good idea of what neighborhood you want to live in, someone who is savvy enough to figure out whether the place is going to burn down/be difficult to heat/be impossible to live in, and a big ass check.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:30 PM on November 14, 2010

The big issue that I see is access to the internet--how much do you need?

If you don't think you need a live/work space you probably don't; so many people run businesses out of purportedly residential apartments that if it's nice enough for you to have a meeting there, you'll probably be fine.

A commercial vs. residential lease is definitely something to research.

Also keep in mind that in NYC the laws are all generally what the landlord is required to do. The landlord is required to let you have one extra person if there's only one person on the lease. You can also have the immediate family of the person on the lease.

If your co-founder is the only one who signs the lease, or his wife is, all three of you can live there. Even if you and the co-founder sign the lease, his wife has to be allowed to live there.

There will be absolutely no problem getting 3 people into an apartment.

If you're coming from outside of NYC you will be very surprised at how tenant-friendly it is.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:38 PM on November 14, 2010

Have you tried talking to the New York State Chamber of Commerce regarding state funded space for technology related start ups? I worked for a start up that was in an incubator in Long Island City specifically funded by the state for small technology/design related businesses. My father used to run the same kind of service for the state of NY. There has to be multiple places like that. Start with the NY State web sites and then maybe Mayor Bloomberg's office?
posted by spicynuts at 9:24 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update for future searchers: we're moving into a great apartment in DUMBO today! No problems (outside the normal NYC renting-craziness) at all. We found lots of places there that would have suited us in our price range.
posted by nosila at 6:40 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

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