Helping a Relative Rent an Apartment

Q.  A member of my family is trying to rent an apartment, but nobody will rent to him because of his low credit rating. Is it possible for me to sign the lease for him? He will live in the apartment and pay rent. I will not live with him, since I already have an apartment subsidized by the city.

A.  “The letter writer should not sign a lease for his family member’s apartment as it could cause a problem with his own subsidized unit,” said David A. Kaminsky, a Manhattan real estate lawyer. The lease terms of most subsidized apartments provide that the subsidized tenant not have any other apartment, he added, pointing out that even if the letter-writer does not actually live in the family member’s apartment, the second lease is probably written on the understanding that the signers of its lease will live there. If the city found out about that lease, it could seek to evict the writer from his subsidized apartment. Mr. Kaminsky noted that it may be possible for the writer to sign the lease only as a guarantor, thereby ensuring payment of the rent without exposing himself to an eviction. He would, however, be liable if his family member did not pay the rent.

The New York Times Q & A orignally published in The New York Times on August 12, 2012.

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