Foreign Guarantor?
May 4, 2007 4:42 PM   Subscribe

Not your usual NYC apartment question: Foreign guarantor in NYC? Help!

Long story short, I'm a college student in NYC, and I've thought long and hard and decided that I most certainly want to live in an apartment next year. This is not questionable -- I'm currently without a home base to operate out of, and after many years of dorm life, I want to have a place to claim as home, or something remotely similar to that.

It turns out that the amount of financial aid I recieve will not change whether or not I'm in a school apartment or not, because I am listed as living abroad (which is true). Consequently, I've discussed plans with my parents, and they have agreed to pay for half of the difference between dorm board and rent, and the apartment I live in. I'll pay the rest.

Here's the problem: As I most certainly don't earn 40~50x the amount of my monthly rent, I need a guarantor. However, my parents have a foreign citizenship only and live abroad. I understand that a guarantor has to live in the US, and maybe even in the Tri-State area for New York apartment rentals. Is there any way to get around this, or to come to agreements with the landlord? Is there any way, with proof of employment/etc that my parents could be guarantors? I know I should ask brokers, but I figured that AskMe would provide succinct, relatively unbiased, and entertaining advice...

Thanks, AskMe!
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not sure how you'd get around it, but when I was younger and needed a guarantor, they actually insisted that the person be a New York state resident. I don't know if that's still the case.
posted by JaredSeth at 4:51 PM on May 4, 2007

I only have my own antecdote to offer: when I moved to NYC in 1996 my father signed as my guarantor. He was in Canada. It wasn't easy as he had to get some stuff notarized and fedex it over within a couple of days but it worked out fine in the end. I was going through a broker and never met the landlord, but apparently the landlord liked my application and particularly that I was a librarian, so allowed it on the condition we get the papers signed and notarized.
posted by marylynn at 4:51 PM on May 4, 2007

Not *every* apartment requires local guarantors. The standard suggestions: If you can plunk down a large security deposit or several months' rent in advance, you will look a lot more appealing to a potential landlord. Outer buroughs will be easier than manhattan. Finding a roommate situation is probably the best idea, though.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:52 PM on May 4, 2007

I had a similar situation when I first came to London, instead of giving the landlord a massive deposit, I made a deal where my parents put money equivalent to the six months rent in a high interest escrow account.
posted by atrazine at 5:09 PM on May 4, 2007

I work in real estate management, and we accept foreign guarantors for our tenants BUT, as ch1x0r mentioned, we usually ask for WAY more of a security deposit. We've even asked for a year's rent upfront.

Of course it all depends on the landlord and the situation. At my job, we require a ton of information and documents before we'll even consider a potential tenant. Meanwhile, three years ago when i found the apt i currently live in, I had no job, no guarantor, and a few measly thousand bucks in savings, but the elderly landlords gave me the apartment because i reminded them of their granddaughter.
posted by silverstatue at 9:32 PM on May 4, 2007

ch1x0r is right- you certainly could get a living situation where you wouldn't need a guarantor, and a share with roommates could be cheaper than living in a dorm (I know it was for me during my senior year of school in NYC, where I moved out of school dorms in Manhattan into a share in Astorai).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:24 PM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

You don't have a guarantor in practical terms. A guarantor is the person the landlord goes after and forces to pay if you turn out to be unable to pay. Therefore, someone not only outside local law/collections reach but outside US jurisdiction entirely won't be considered usable as a guarantor, only as a symbolic "person who vouches for you." The only exceptions you'll find are situations like marylynn describes, in which a small-scale/individual landlord likes you enough that they'll accept you without a go-after-able guarantor.

However, you're in luck because nyc is teeming with small-scale landlords who will make decisions based solely on how much they like and trust you.

Your best bet is combing the section of Craigslist rentals called "by owner," calling or emailing IMMEDIATELY if you see anything that appeals, and being a perfect candidate (get to the neighborhood early enough that there's no chance you'll be late for the appointment; dress really nicely; be incredibly well-mannered). With enough effort you will definitely be able to connect with a sympathetic landlord. Good luck!
posted by allterrainbrain at 1:54 AM on May 5, 2007

"outside US jurisdiction entirely won't be considered usable as a guarantor"

FWIW, I think that when you enter into certain contracts in X state (country) you submit yourself to personal jurisdiction in that state with regard to the enforcement of the contract. Or, at any rate, that is what I memorized (but barely understood - and cared less) from the bar exam. I think the issue is not so much one of ACTUALLY having jurisdiction, but having the practical ability to exercise that jurisdiction without excessive difficulty, expense, confusion.

I think the roommate suggestions are by far your best bet, but another suggestion would be to perhaps find online or in-person communities that have a tie to your country of origin. You never know when you might meet a landlord or someone whose landlord has a place who is more forgiving since they have a tie to the same heritage. A third suggestion might be to speak to your school - while I was a student at NYU the university to some (admittedly small) extent sometimes helped to facilitate students' finding off-campus housing and there was an office staff designated for that effort, IIRC. These leads might me more likely than Craigslist to lead to landlords that look not merely to the precise mathematical relationship between your income and rent, but more to your responsibility, respectability, history with other bills and thus be more flexible. I can't vouch for that personally, but it's a thought.
posted by bunnycup at 9:45 AM on May 5, 2007

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