There are no guarantees in life. But there *are* guarantors. If your credit or lack thereof has you worried about securing a rental in NYC, don’t fret. You do have options that may help while you work on improving your credit score higher. But first, you may be wondering, what is a guarantor? We will delve into all that and more — we (ahem) guarantee it. 

Table of Contents

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    Why Would You Need a Guarantor?

    There are reasons a person might need a guarantor. And they all relate to money, credit, or both. For example, perhaps you’re a full-time student and don’t have an income of your own that meets the 40 times rent requirement equation. (FYI, landlords use the formula to determine how much rent you can afford.) Maybe you shied away from credit cards and haven’t established a credit score yet. Or, possibly, your credit score is very low. (You may find it hard to rent an apartment if your credit score is lower than 650.) In those situations, knowing what is a guarantor can help.

    What Is a Guarantor?

    The solution to getting an apartment with poor or no credit? It just may be asking a friend or family member to help as a lease guarantor. That’s someone who guarantees payment on the lease if you can’t come up with the cash. The person doesn’t need to be a relative, but they generally need to reside within New York State. That way, a landlord can easily collect from the guarantor should the need arise.

    There Is a Hitch

    But keep in mind, your guarantor needs to meet a specific financial requirement in addition to having good credit. “They have to make 80 times the rent,” says Nikki R. Thomas, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker for The Corcoran Group in Manhattan and Brooklyn. “Landlords are looking for someone who is super-duper qualified, so they can pay your rent when you can’t. That’s why they want double the 40 times rent requirement typically required from renters.” 

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    What’s the Difference Between a Guarantor and a Co-Signer?

    Unlike a guarantor, who lives elsewhere but is on the hook if you fail to pay your rent, a “co-signer” on a rental is a co-tenant. They’re on the lease with you and live in the apartment. Both parties are responsible for paying the rent. 

    Here’s an example from the famous New York renters on the show “Friends.” If Monica Gellar and Rachel Green both signed the lease on their apartment, they would be co-signers. And if actor Joey Tribiani were hard up for cash to get his own apartment in the building, his more flush pal Chandler Bing could act as his guarantor. If Joey loses his “Days of Our Lives” gig and can’t pay the rent, he might ask: “what is a guarantor?”…and Chandler would have to pony up his rent.

    Co-Signer Also Means Something Else

    When it comes to buying a home, though, the co-signer term means something different. It’s more akin to a guarantor. When the primary borrower does not financially qualify for a mortgage, the lender will require someone to “co-sign” the loan. That person then becomes liable for the mortgage payment if the primary borrower defaults.

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    Can You Combine Guarantors?

    One question that often comes up when you’re curious about what is a guarantor is whether you can combine guarantors. In short: yup! You can. One guarantor’s income may be too wee for your landlord’s 80 times the rent policy. So you can ask another guarantor to join — like your Mom and your Aunt Linda. It’s a fairly common practice. If your rent is $2,500, your guarantor would need an annual income of $200,000. That’s a lot of money.

    If that doesn’t work, showing that you have other ways of making your rent payment may get you approved. If you or your parents have significant savings, share the account statements with your landlord. It’s worth asking, anyway. After all, this is New York City — a place where anything’s possible.

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    Can Your Guarantor Be Out of State or Out of the Country?

    People from all over the world come to live in NYC. And you may question if a guarantor can be out of the state or even out of the country. “I have heard of landlords accepting out-of-country guarantors. There are also landlords willing to accept guarantors located anywhere in the U.S., so it doesn’t hurt to ask.”

    What if You Don’t Have Anybody To Be Your Guarantor?

    Not everybody has a family member or friend they can turn to when they need a guarantor. Evan Rugen, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with R New York, says you may want to look into getting “an institutional guarantor, which is quite expensive.” But to get your foot in the door of a New York apartment, it’s worth considering. For a fee, companies like Insurent and The Guarantors may be able to assist in easing your new landlord’s worries so that you can fret about more important things. Like what to serve at your housewarming party. 

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