The Odd Odd Triple
March 18, 2014 9:46 AM   Subscribe

How can three guys with slightly wonky income situations get an apartment in NYC without a guarantor?

Me and two of my friends are looking to rent an apartment in Brooklyn, most likely in the Prospect Heights/Bed-Stuy areas. We are looking to pay ~2600, moving in either April or May. The problem is, we have disparate and slightly unique income situations:

Roommate 1 - Steady income, ~45k a year. No credit.
Roommate 2 - No income until September, but dad will foot the bill until then. Job in Sept pays ~70k. Good credit.
Roommate 3 - Currently lives in Los Angeles, but moving to NYC. No job in NYC, but has decent amount of savings. Does "brand promotion/ambassador" and that sort of marketing. Has made a decent living for himself in LA doing that, plans on doing it in the NYC area. Good credit and rental history.

Ideally we would try to get a guarantor, but the only person we know who fits the income requirement has (understandably) declined to cosign for us.

Does anybody have any experience renting in the Prospect Height/Bed-Stuy area? How flexible are landlords when it comes to working with strange situations such as ours? Realistically, what are the chances that the three of us actually get a place in our present situation, and what is the best way to go about looking for an apartment given our current circumstances?
posted by Geppp to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I cannot vouch for it, but Insurent is an NYC service that will offer a one-year guarantor for a fee. Might be worth looking into.

You may also be able to find a landlord willing to accept a larger security deposit, or multiple guarantors (one for each of your shares of the rent).
posted by thecaddy at 10:00 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe having the lease be only in Roommate 2's name, and the others of you are "roommates"? That's a really good income for a guy who's apartment-sharing, and if he's also got good credit that makes it a good bet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:01 AM on March 18, 2014

or multiple guarantors (one for each of your shares of the rent)

I don't know about NYC, but I have done this three separate times for apartments in Chicago. The landlords have acted bent out of shape about it, but really it's not been any big problem at all. Basically just a bit more paperwork.
posted by phunniemee at 10:17 AM on March 18, 2014

Cash (or cash equivalent). When I was trying to rent an apartment many moons ago without a guarantor, living off a small income and student loans, paying six months rent up front was the only offered option. Note: this is usually the last six months rent (so rent is still due monthly for months 1-6).

Your other option is subletting from someone until roommate 2's job starts, then either take over the lease or move. There will be a lot of students (e.g., from Columbia/NYU) who will be gone for the summer months looking to sublet their apartments.

Generally a guarantor will need to be in NY or the tri-state area and make 100x the rent (so $100K annual income for a $1K/month rent).

Edit to add: many landlords require that each roommate meets the income requirements for the entire rent, not just your share, as you'll be jointly and severally liable for the entire rent.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:40 AM on March 18, 2014

Here's what works in NYC: letting the broker/landlord that you'd be willing to pay 6 months to a year of rent in advance.
posted by Pineapplicious at 10:40 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have lived all over Brooklyn and am currently on the edge of Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill. If you are going through craigslist and aren't planning on using a broker, I think you'll have better luck getting a place without a guarantor. I have never used a guarantor and have had the wildest variation of income you could imagine. The only time I have ever had to show anything is a screen-shot of my credit score to my current landlord and my credit is great so that has worked out well.

A lot of the time for apartments within your price range, you can show up to see the place, explain your situation and ask what they want from you to secure it--a $2600 3-bedroom isn't a luxury apartment and a landlord will know they aren't renting to a luxury market. Tell them what you have to offer--extra deposit $, two people with good credit, one person can sign the lease and be the sole responsible party, etc, etc. Most of the time they just want to get the job done and have money in their hands (just don't give them anything until the lease is signed!).

Another work-around that happens often is being able to track down someone who needs to sub-lease their place through the end of their lease. Oftentimes, these situations allow you to take over the lease under your own name once the previous tenant's lease runs out.

Don't let people scare you. If you can hustle and make it a daily chore to look for deals, you can make it work.

Anyway, good luck.
posted by greta simone at 10:44 AM on March 18, 2014

If you can come up with the cash to pay 6 months upfront, this should completely solve the guarantor issue. Though I have seen landlords refuse to accept anything less than the full year upfront, but mostly on more expensive apartments.

Otherwise, your best bet is probably to try to find apartments that are listed directly by the landlord/owner and NOT a management co. They will be more likely to be lenient on the "rules" and work with you.

Don't rule out listings by brokers--but let them know right away the specifics of your situation, they will be able to tell you if you are disqualified, and if they think they can make it work, they are incentived to do so as that's how they earn their money. If you find a broker you like, they may be able to do the footwork for you in finding a place that will accept you guys as tenants--but you will be paying them a fee (they're going to tell you it's 15% of a years' rent, ask them if they will come down to 12%, most will).

Insurent is indeed designed for exactly this purpose, but smaller landlords may not be familiar with it/take it--larger buildings and management companies might.
posted by syrenka at 3:00 PM on March 18, 2014

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