Washington, D.C. has a very competitive renter’s market, and it seems to get worse every time the administration changes. So, it can be quite challenging to not only find a great apartment but also to secure it. When struggling, consider working with a qualified cosigner in D.C. to make sure you get that dream home.
The problem with securing an apartment is that landlords have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a tenant. Unfortunately, they can be pretty picky. One area where they are especially picky is your income.
Yes, D.C. offers tenants a whole slew of rights. Like everywhere else, landlords aren’t allowed to discriminate based on many factors – most of which should just be common sense. The law doesn’t really get involved though when it comes to income.
Now, landlords aren’t allowed to discriminate based on the source of income. At the same time however, the law can’t obligate a landlord to rent a property to someone who doesn’t qualify from a financial standpoint. This is why you will find that many landlords require you proof of income during the application process. In Washington, D.C., the general consensus is that you need to make at least three times the monthly rent. This is understandable considering that the cost of living in D.C is 39% higher than the national average.
The average rent in Washington, D.C. is about $2,139 per month, which means you need to earn roughly $6,417 per month or over $77,000 per year. Considering that the average salary in D.C, according to Payscale. is $71,262, you can see there’s a slight problem. The numbers don’t add up properly.
So, that’s where a cosigner in D.C. can help. This person acts as a guarantor for the lease. Essentially all it means is that they commit to paying the rent in your place if you are unable to. So, if you stop paying, the person acting as your cosigner will be obligated to step in.
Just like you, your cosigner has to prove they earn enough money to cover the rent. In most cases, the same qualification requirements apply. Some landlords require the cosigner to make far more, especially if they have a mortgage or are a tenant themselves.
Luckily, though, landlords in Washington, D.C. aren’t quite as strict as in New York City. In the Big Apple, you need to earn a minimum of 45 times the monthly rent, or your cosigner needs to earn upwards of 80 times!
So, to pay for an apartment with a monthly rent of $2,139, in New York, you’d have to earn $96,255 per year, while your cosigner would have to earn a minimum of $171,000. In this case, the grass is definitely greener in the Capital!
When it comes to actually finding a cosigner, there are two angles with which to approach the situation.
The first is purely selfish – ask yourself, does their income qualify?
The second approach is more about putting yourself in their shoes. They’re going to have to hand over a lot of personal information to your landlord. Plus, they’re taking on a pretty big responsibility in committing to paying your rent.
Of course, no one plans to not pay rent, but unexpected things do happen in life. So, you have to really make sure that the person who is taking on this responsibility would be okay with covering your rent if you were suddenly unable to pay.
You might scoff and think that you could never be in a situation in which you couldn’t afford to pay rent. But it’s far better to be safe than sorry. Certainly more than one relationship has been negatively affected over finances, so it’s best to make the choice carefully. Simply be upfront about the situation.
For example, your parents might be a great option. Keep in mind though just because they’re your parents, they are under no obligation to pay your rent for you. So, if your mom refuses to be a cosigner on your D.C. dream apartment, don’t get upset. Instead, figure out what her reasons are and see what you can do about it. Perhaps it’s because she’s worried you’re not being responsible? You could even go so far as to sign a document (a DIY contract) stating you will pay back every penny in the unlikely event your parents have to take over.
You have a few options to rent an apartment if you don’t have a cosigner in D.C.
The simplest is to look for an apartment in one of D.C.’s more inexpensive neighborhoods. For example, the average monthly rent in Anacostia is $1,220, which is far cheaper than somewhere like Shaw, where you can expect to pay $2,638 per month.
Naturally staying somewhere cheaper might mean not being as close to the city center. Although you’re still not that far out, and it’s less than half the rent. Plus, it’ll definitely be easier to qualify for.
If you have savings, you could offer a higher security deposit initially or offer to pay the entire year’s rent in advance. You’ll find landlords are far more understanding when you walk in with the equivalent of a year’s rent.
However, you should also consider the long term. Yes, maybe you can manage to pay for 12 month’s rent now, but what about when that year is up? Will you still be able to afford it? You have to be realistic and decide whether being 10 minutes closer to your job is worth paying so much more.
Of course, if you know your lack of income is a temporary situation, then paying in advance is definitely a great option.
Another option is to rent from a company like Blueground. They offer fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments for rent for a minimum stay of 30 days. When renting a home from Blueground, no cosigner is required. All you need to do is provide a security deposit that is equivalent to one month’s rent. Then you’re good to go! Your move-in ready home awaits, with all the essentials and extra amenities needed to show up in D.C. and immediately start living.
The flexible lease terms offered mean that you can experience various apartments and explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods – all on the same contract.