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Can my landlord force me to use a rental guarantor?

by SuperiorInvest

Q: A year ago, when I applied for a market-rate apartment in the Bronx, the landlord required me to obtain a rental bond from a bond company. I have a good credit score, but the agent said my liquid assets were below the required threshold. In addition to the deposit, I had to give them the first month's rent and a one-month security deposit before moving in. The bail cost me $1,000. I have been paying my rent on time through the company app, but now they are telling me I need to renew the bond for a new two-year lease. I have signed the lease; the owner does not. If I say no to the bail and I can't resolve anything else, can I be evicted?

TO: A rental bond guarantees the tenant's rent payment obligation. The bond covers the landlord's losses if the tenant does not pay the rent; The guarantor then recovers the money from the tenant. It may seem unnecessary, but your landlord may require it.

“The owner has the right to impose the requirement and the perpetrator has no recourse to refuse it,” said Nancy L. Kourland, a real estate attorney with Lasser Law Group. “Furthermore, it is very likely that the landlord will not endorse the renewal of the lease without proof that the perpetrator purchased a rental voucher.”

Many landlords rely on third-party guarantors rather than tenants asking family or friends to act as guarantors. Tenants whose income fluctuates or who have little rental history in New York City, a low credit score, a new job, or insufficient income and assets are more likely to need a rental bond.

Requiring a guarantee from an institution became more popular when a state landlord-tenant law, the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, went into effect, Ms. Kourland said. The law allows landlords to charge only the first month's rent and a security deposit equal to one month's rent at the beginning of the lease.

If you don't get a bond, your landlord could start eviction proceedings after your current lease expires. “However, if the cost of obtaining the bond is excessive, a court could consider it 'unconscionable' and therefore unenforceable,” said James B. Fishman, a Manhattan attorney representing the tenants.

You could try to negotiate a compromise with your landlord. For example, offer to pay the rental bond during the first year of the lease and, if all your payments are made on time, the landlord will waive the requirement during the second year.

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