Well, as a guideline in NYC, you can expect to spend approximately 25% of your gross annual income on rent. If you earn $80,000 per year, plan to spend $20,000 on rent.
What do landlords commonly require?
The basic requirement is that you annually earn 40 to 50 times the amount of the monthly rent, and that you have a good credit rating. (See credit report paragraph below)
What paper work will I need?
- Application form: The first step that will start the process once an apartment is found is filing out an application form. Most management companies have their own form that needs to be used.
- Letter of employment: Must be on official company letterhead. The letter must state your position, length of employment or start date, your annual income and the letter must be signed by a person authorized to verify the information provided. Please note that a signed offer and acceptance letter is usually not sufficient.
- Pay stubs: A copy of your three most recent pay stubs.
- Tax return: Some management companies require a copy of your most recent federal tax return. A tax return is usually required when a person is self employed or if you are basing your income on several different sources of income.
- Landlord letter A reference: letter from your recent landlord can always help in the process and is often required. If you are unable to get a letter, have the name, address and phone numbers of your landlord ready.
- Bank statements: Your three most recent statements from your checking account, savings account or any financial institution should do.
- Bank account numbers: are often required on application forms. Have them ready just in case you need them.
- References: If you have an Accountant or Attorney you might need their numbers to put down as a reference. Think of other people that could be references in case you need them and have their information handy. Not all landlords will require letters of reference.
- Identification: Many landlords require a copy of a photo ID at lease signing.
Credit reports are always run on every applicant and guarantor. The prices of credit reports / application fees range from $25-$100 depending on the management. Unfortunately credit reports obtained on your own are not accepted. A major part of the approval process is based on your credit report. So what is bad? A few old late payments are usually ok. A high revolving balance is not good. Past due payments that are still outstanding are bad. Delinquencies and collections are very bad. A public record (your day in court) is bad and a Landlord-Tenant record is the worst! If you think your credit is not good; it probably isn’t. Be sure to advise your agent of this. Doing so will allow your agent to properly prepare you for the process. Different landlords have different ways of dealing with “credit issues”. Some will allow you to increase the security deposit or to use a guarantor. Others may reject the application completely. We will guide you in a way that will save you time money and a lot of frustration.
What is a Guarantor?
A guarantor, also called a co-signor, is someone who is willing to guarantee your lease. The guarantor is responsible for all terms of your lease and guaranties not only your share of the rent but the entire lease – if in a share situation.
Do I need a Guarantor?
If you do not meet the financial or credit requirements, a guarantor might be your solution. Students or young individuals who do not meet the income requirements will usually need a guarantor. When bad credit is the reason, allowing a guarantor will depend on how bad the credit is and on how strict the management. Sometimes a combination of guarantor and extra security is needed. If you think you might need a guarantor please advise your agent of this so that together you can prepare yourself most efficiently.
Who can be a Guarantor?
A guarantor does not have to be a relative. Many landlords require the guarantor to live in the Tri-State area; New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. Try to prepare your potential guarantor by speaking with them and advising them of what they will be asked for. You might have to act quickly and their cooperation may be critical for your approval. A guarantor needs to fill out an application form and provide the required documents. The requirements are usually good credit and double the income requirements of an applicant. If an applicant is required to show an annual income of 40-50 times the monthly rent, a guarantor is required to show annual income of 80-100 times the monthly rent. The documents required are similar though usually all that is needed are proof of income (usually by providing tax returns) and a credit report. Guarantors usually do not have to be present at lease signing.
This article was contributed by BOND New York, the fifth largest residential real estate agency in Manhattan with seven offices and over 500 agents. Remember, finding a great apartment is only half the job, being able to get it is the other, and more important, half.