Everyone knows that renting in NYC is expensive. But it’s now more complicated thanks to new legislation. Previously, potential tenants could pay more on their security deposit to offset their risk to an owner, as if they couldn’t meet the income requirements. However, new laws have rendered that workaround null and void. The new rent law helped cap the security deposit a one month’s rent, but it’s unfortunately complicated things for renters who don’t meet a landlord’s income requirements.
Since Manhattan and Brooklyn’s average rental price is around $3,000, anyone wanting to live in the area needs to make approximately $120,000 a year (40 times the rent). For many New York residents, the income requirement is impossible to meet. Finding affordable housing in NYC is very difficult, but it’s not impossible. If you aren’t making the ideal income to get your apartment in the city, consider these seven potential workarounds.
- Get a Guarantor
Guarantors are individuals who co-sign your lease, with the implication that they will pay the rent if you don’t. Generally, guarantors are required to have a credit score not below 700 and have an annual income of 80 times the monthly rent. Occasionally, the landlord may require this co-signer to reside nearby in New York, Connecticut, or New Jersey.
Many landlords in the past were often unwilling to take third-party guarantors, but that’s no longer the case. Now that landlords and leasing agents can only take one month’s rent as a security deposit, guarantors are increasingly popular to help assure you get into your preferred apartment. Your guarantor can be a friend or relative—anyone willing to be financially responsible if you can’t pay.
You can also hire a company (such as Insurent) to sign as your guarantor. Please note, though, that some institutional guarantors cover only a set number of months of rent as opposed to the entire lease. This is less coverage for the owner, though it offers an enticing lower premium for the renting party. Still, not every owner accepts this option (especially if they are not covering the full lease) and may prefer tenants with good credit who don’t have to rely on third-party guarantors.
- Improve Your Credit Score
Every landlord has their own specific criteria when it comes to credit scores. Typically, a score of around 700 is what most owners or landlords will expect, but there may be exceptions so that owners can fill up their unoccupied spaces. If the credit score is a deal-breaker, you have a few options to improve the number.
A straightforward approach to improve your score is to start paying off some or all your debts, particularly if the debts surpass 15 percent of your available credit. Or if your low credit score is due to you not having any lines of credit open, the most appropriate action is to open a line or two of credit, making manageable regular installments. Finally, it’s a good idea to check for errors on your credit report and, on the off chance that you locate any, correct every one of them quickly. Remember to ask for letters of explanation for significant issues like liens or 11 bankruptcy to supply to landlords if needed.
- Get a Roommate (or Two)
Sharing the burden of the rent with a roommate (or roommates) is an obvious solution for certain individuals. Of course, this might not work well if you are looking for a place to move your family. Still, sharing the financial burden is a popular option for many in New York City.
Depending on the setup of the apartment, three or four people could easily rent a two-bedroom. Typically, the two roommates with the best financial records will be the co-signers of the lease. It’s recommended that a roommate agreement is written to clearly state what the remaining roommates must contribute to rent since they will not be on the lease.
- Consider Co-living Spaces
Co-living companies require you to sacrifice your autonomy but provide the benefit of a furnished apartment and roommates. You don’t have to pick yourself. For one monthly payment, you can often find spaces that are comparably cheaper than if you tried to rent an apartment on your own. However, always make sure you research the company to make sure they are following codes and regulations for the space they are renting out.
Many of these businesses vet tenants the same way conventional landlords do, so you need to know what’s expected from you before you sign up for one of these spaces. For instance, at Common, one of the most popular co-living companies, tenants still need to earn 40 times their portion of the rent. Yet there is a potential that even with the expected income requirements, your monthly rent will be less than a traditional home—so maybe you’ll be able to afford it. If you look around, not every co-living space has those same strict income standards.
- Search in the Right Season
You can always use the season to your advantage if you are flexible about when to rent. The winter, from October to March, is often a difficult time for rentals to sell with few people looking for a new place to live. You may discover during this season an owner or landlord who is more open than usual to leasing to you even if you don’t quite meet the expected financials. There is no guarantee that you’ll get a better price, but often landlords might be motivated by the slow season to fill their empty spaces with whoever is interested.
- Get on a List or Lottery
If you are in no rush to move, consider putting your name down on a list for an apartment or fill out an application to enter a random drawing. Organizations like NYC Housing Connect offers affordable apartments through waitlists and lotteries. While it can take years and multiple entries to win, people do win every so often. You may have your best chance of applying for an apartment in the borough you currently live in.
- Find a Flexible Landlord
While leasing agents and company-owned properties are unlikely to offer much flexibility on a tenant’s income requirements, searching for an apartment rented out by the owner can often lead to negotiating a different arrangement. Your best bet might be locating an owner that is willing to extend some flexibility with their requirements. Many owners may value credit history over income for picking good and reliable tenants, so you just need to locate the rightful owners.
To get around having to meet the income requirement, do some digging for properties that will work with you. Most rental listing sites allow you to adjust your search criteria to units that are rented by the owner, or to those that accept guarantors, so you can select just the right match for your situation. There are many landlords and property owners out there that surely one is willing to work with you and your unique situation.
You now have seven different options to try if you don’t meet the standard NYC income requirements for renting. If you don’t earn 40 times the rent, rest assured, there are options to still live in a place you love and can afford. Enjoy hunting for your new home!