Q: I’m a retiree with no income but significant liquidity, and I’m wondering how a person without a traditional source of income can qualify for an apartment when landlords typically require renters to show proof that they earn 40 times the monthly rent. I have to believe that mine is not an uncommon situation. What are other ways I can prove to a prospective landlord that I can pay the rent?
A: Landlords have a huge amount of discretion when they choose tenants, so long as they do not discriminate. In a competitive rental market like this one, renters with nontraditional assets — including retirees, recent graduates, students and people who are self-employed — are at a disadvantage simply because the vetting process is more competitive.
Open houses are packed and bidding wars are rampant. Some prospective renters are even bribing brokers and landlords with Gucci discounts, tickets to shows and French cheese, according to Brick Underground. If your application shows nontraditional assets and income streams, a landlord might simply move down to the next name on the list.
“In a market like this, if you don’t have active income, you’re at a severe disadvantage,” said Keyan Sanai, a salesman with Douglas Elliman.
So how do you compete? Come prepared. Bring evidence that you can pay the rent. Show proof of income from a pension, a 401(k), Social Security, dividends or savings. You also might consider enlisting a guarantor, a person who can guarantee payment on your lease. A qualified guarantor frequently needs to earn 80 times the monthly rent and would be on the hook should you fail to pay. You could also pay for an institutional guarantor, using a service like Insurent or TheGuarantors. These companies charge a fee, somewhere between 35 percent and 110 percent of the monthly rent, to guarantee a lease. (You’d pay this fee in addition to any application and broker’s fees.)
Whatever the case, you’ll still need to find a landlord willing to consider a slightly complicated application. “You have to find a landlord who is willing to take a risk, even if on paper the person doesn’t show any risks,” Mr. Sanai said. “Even if you have an 800 credit score and half a million dollars in the account, it’s still a risk.”
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