Rachel Wagner, Emily Coit and Taylor Jewell, recent college graduates and childhood friends from Portland, Ore., discovered that finding such a guardian angel was almost as difficult as finding an apartment.
They had lined up a $3,400-a-month apartment on the Upper East Side, but could not meet the standard Manhattan landlord requirement that their combined salaries equal 40 times the monthly rent, or $136,000. So they would need a guarantor making 70 times the rent, $238,000. 
In August, the landlord changed its policy requiring the guarantor to live in the region; Jamie Heiberger, a lawyer who represents landlords, said many of them prefer guarantors who live nearby because it is much harder to pursue judgments from more distant states. Tony Caputo of Blackstone Properties, the young women’s agent, said some landlords accepted only New York guarantors.
So the women made awkward calls to relatives and friends. Ms. Coit was going to ask an uncle from Buffalo who is in his 70s. But she ultimately did not, because his income would not qualify. Ms. Coit asked a family friend from Connecticut, who declined because he felt uncomfortable providing his tax returns, bank statements and Social Security number. Ms. Jewell’s uncle, who has real estate investments here, also did not qualify under the income requirements.
Blair Brandt, whose referral company, the Next Step Realty, helped these friends find their broker and guided them through the process, said many graduates arriving in Manhattan were facing this problem.
Ms. Heiberger said landlords were being extra careful because the recession has made the problem of unpaid rent so widespread.
“There can be the hedge fund guy that’s out of a job, or it could be the college student that can’t find a job,” she said.
The friends’ parents reached an agreement with the landlord by putting several months rent in escrow; the friends moved in earlier this month. But they still find it strange. Steve Jewell, Taylor’s father, who is a landlord in Portland, does not require his renters to have guarantors.
“It’s far beyond certainly anything that would be done in Portland,” Mr. Jewell said. “But we understand it’s a different market.”