NYC Apartment Guarantor Guide

May 28th 2024
Guarantors help tenants qualify for an apartment. They promise to cover rent and other expenses if the tenant fails to do so. This assurance reduces the risk for landlords, especially when renting to tenants with limited credit history or income. Landlords want applicants that have a high income, a strong credit score, and excellent rental history. If you don't meet the requirements, you'll need to find a NYC guarantor to co-sign and guarantee your lease.

A guarantor is one of your only options if you don't meet the typical NYC apartment application requirements? So what's a guarantor and how do you get one? And are they the same as a cosigner? 

Table of Contents

What Is a Guarantor?
Is a Guarantor the Same as a Cosigner?
How Do You Know That You Need a Lease Guarantor?
Who Should You Ask to be Your Guarantor?
NYC Guarantor Requirements
Necessary Documents For Guarantors
What is an Institutional Guarantor in NYC?
NYC Guarantor Services
What if Your Guarantor Doesn’t Want to Co-sign for Your Roommates?
What About Paying Extra Money to Get Approved For an Apartment?
If You Need a NYC Lease Guarantor Prepare Ahead of Time
NYC Guarantor Bottom Line

hash-markWhat Is a Guarantor? 

A lease guarantor is an individual who guarantees that your lease obligations will be met and the rent will be paid. Specifically, the guarantor guarantees that the lease payments will be made to the landlord if, for some reason, the tenant does not pay the rent. In the unfortunate event that you are evicted, this will affect the guarantor’s credit as well yours.

Guarantors are required when a tenant does not qualify for an apartment themselves, most commonly because they do not meet the 40x rent rule

hash-markIs a Guarantor the Same as a Cosigner?

No, a guarantor is not the same as cosigner. It’s important to note that a guarantor does not have the right to possess or occupy the apartment (unless you and anyone else on the lease, such as your roommate(s) agree). This is essentially the main difference between a lease guarantor and cosigner as a cosigner is essentially treated as another tenant, with permission to occupy the apartment.

Practically, this means that many folks use the terms guarantor and cosigner interchangeably, especially when a family member (typically a parent) is guaranteeing a lease, but in truth, guarantors generally need to meet stricter income requirements to be able to help you secure a lease. 

hash-markHow Do You Know That You Need a Lease Guarantor?

If you know that you have a low credit score (below 650) or are unemployed or simply don’t make enough money or have a recent bankruptcy, etc., nine times out of ten, you will need a guarantor to be approved for an apartment in New York City. However, if for some reason you are unsure about whether you qualify, or you fall on the cusp of the landlord’s requirement, the best way is to review the landlord’s conditions and talk to your broker.

Most brokers are knowledgeable about each landlord’s requirements and can tell you whether it's best to submit your application with a guarantor. In a fast-paced rental market like New York City, you should always be prepared to provide additional information with your application to avoid missing out on a great apartment. 

hash-markWho Should You Ask to be Your Guarantor?

You should ask someone who you feel comfortable with and, most importantly, someone who trusts you to be your guarantor. Additionally, you should ensure that the guarantor makes a significant amount of money so that he or she can financially cover their own living expenses, together with your apartment rent.

Typically, your guarantor will have a lot of questions, including what information do they need to provide and who will be occupying the apartment with you. With that being said, It actually may be easier to find a guarantor if you plan on residing in the apartment alone. That is because, oftentimes, your prospective guarantor may trust you but have reservations about your roommates. 

In the event you find a guarantor who is uncomfortable co-signing for you and your roommates, it’s crucial to know whether or not the landlord accepts multiple guarantors. If the landlord accepts multiple guarantors, you can agree with your roommates that everyone will be responsible for obtaining their own guarantor. 

Pro tip: if your landlord accepts multiple guarantors, the guarantors, together with the roommates, should have a written agreement about the procedure in the unfortunate event that one roommate doesn’t pay the rent. This is another way for your guarantors to feel comfortable about signing as a cosigner for the apartment

hash-markNYC Guarantor Requirements

In New York City, the guarantor should live in the city or the surrounding areas. (This includes Connecticut, New Jersey, etc.). However, some landlords may approve a guarantor who lives in other states. Essentially, it is important that the guarantor can sign the original copy of the lease if the applicants are approved. While the other requirements vary amongst landlords, typically, most landlords want the guarantor to demonstrate the following:

  1. A high credit score: Usually, landlords require that the guarantor’s credit score be exceptional, probably over 700, with no recent defaults, bankruptcies, or collection accounts. 
  2. Meet income requirements: The guarantor must be able to demonstrate that they can pay for the apartment, in the unfortunate event that the tenants do not pay. The standard NYC guarantor income requirement is that their salary is at least 80 - 100 times the rent. For example, if the rent is $2,000, most landlords will require the guarantor's income to be at least $160,000 to $200,000. 

hash-markNecessary Documents For Guarantors

The guarantor should be prepared to submit the same proof of income documents as the applicants; 2-4 recent pay stubs, two months of most recent bank statements, two years' worth of tax returns, and a letter of employment. If any of the guarantors are self-employed or own a business, a certified public accountant may provide a statement regarding their income.

Pro tip: Finding a guarantor who is a salaried employee versus a guarantor who is self-employed makes verification and the application process easier. If the guarantor is self-employed, a certified public accountant typically must provide a letter/statement, attesting to the guarantor’s yearly income. Additionally, the landlord typically wants to see that the guarantor has been self-employed for at least five years (sometimes 10+ years). 

hash-markWhat is an Institutional Guarantor in NYC?

Many students and NYC transplants, like international workers/students, may have to use what is called an institutional guarantor because they can’t find a traditional guarantor. Institutional guarantors are companies, financial institutions, and/or corporate entities that will act as a guarantor to your lease for a fee. An institutional guarantor will have more lenient criteria to act as your guarantor but will charge a fee in return. 

For example, companies like Insurent Lease Guaranty and The Guarantors are well-known companies that can act as institutional guarantors for your NYC apartment. 

hash-markNYC Guarantor Services

  1. Insurent
  2. The Guarantors

1. Insurent

Insurent is the oldest guarantor service in NYC, and one of the most respected. Insurent requires that the applicant make at least 27.5 times the monthly rent. Typically, the applicant should have a credit score of at least 630. Their fees are as follows:

  • For U.S. Citizens: 60-90 percent of one month’s rent. 
  • For non-U.S. Citizens: 95-110 percent of one month’s rent

2. The Guarantors

Another well-established guarantor service in NYC is offered by The Guarantors. They require a credit score of at least 630, but their website mentions that they will consider other factors in reviewing your application. Additionally, The Guarantors requires that you earn 27 times the monthly rent annually. Their fees are as follows:

  • For U.S. citizens: the cost ranges from 4.75 to 7.5 % of the annual rent 
  • For non-U.S. citizens: 7-10 percent of annual rent

Pro tip: neither Insurent or The Guarantors requires a U.S. credit history, although the approval process may vary. If you don’t meet these exact guidelines, these agencies still may be able to approve you on a case-by-case basis.

hash-markWhat if Your Guarantor Doesn’t Want to Co-sign for Your Roommates?

In the event you find a guarantor who is uncomfortable co-signing for you and your roommates, it’s crucial to know whether or not the landlord accepts multiple guarantors. If the landlord accepts multiple guarantors, you can agree with your roommates that everyone will be responsible for obtaining their own guarantor.

hash-markWhat About Paying Extra Money to Get Approved for an Apartment?

It used to be that applicants could pay multiple months of rent upfront or pay an extra security deposit to get approved for an apartment. However, with the recent enactment of New York’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“HSTPA”), this is no longer the case. Specifically, the HSTPA limits all security deposits in New York State to just one month’s rent. Additionally, the HSTPA prohibits landlords from collecting future rents in advance, which was a common practice of NYC landlords renting to students, or people with bad credit. As such, applicants will probably now be more dependent upon institutional guarantors if they can’t locate a guarantor on their own. 

While you can no longer pre-pay your rent to a landlord, you should have no trouble qualifying for a guarantor service in NYC if you have the funds to pre-pay rent.  

hash-markIf You Need a NYC Lease Guarantor, Prepare Ahead of Time

The key to a successful apartment search is to be prepared. That means having your paperwork in order and doing your homework prior to looking for an apartment. If you think you'll need a lease guarantor, try to find one as soon as possible.

If you're unsure if you'll qualify for an apartment you can start calculating how much rent you can afford based on your income. Then you can check your credit score, which you can do for free on places like Credit Karma,, or credit sesame. Additionally, a lot of credit card companies offer your credit score as a perk to being a cardholder. 

The next step will be gathering your paperwork, which you'll need to submit even if you use a guarantor. Typically you'll need your most recent (2) paystubs, an employment verification letter (or at least know how to get one fast). You should also locate your last year’s tax returns and have the contact information for each of your past landlords. 

Pro Tip: Submitting proof of large saving accounts or other assets can improve an applicant’s chances of getting approved by the landlord. 

hash-markNYC Guarantor Bottom Line

If you want to rent an apartment in New York City, but don't meet the income requirements for the apartment, you'll probably need a guarantor. You can use a family member or friend as a guarantor, as long as they meet the income requirements the landlord has set. You can also use a NYC guarantor service like Insurent or The Guarantors if you need to. 

For more info on typical requirements for renters check out our guide on how to rent an apartment in NYC