Are you moving to a different city for higher education and looking for off-campus accommodation? Well, first off, congratulations! Your student journey has just begun, and we’re here to guide you through your process. Whether you’re looking for housing in the UK or USA, you’ll likely require a rent guarantor. This article explains what a guarantor is, why they are required and how to acquire one.
What is a student rent guarantor?
A rent guarantor is someone who signs your lease with you and essentially acts as your safety net. They could be a person, organisation, or company that accounts for your responsibility when you're in the country. A guarantor also complies to secure another person's tenancy agreement or contract based upon a professional or mutual connection.
Depending upon the country you're renting a home in, their role and requirements may differ slightly, but their primary responsibility is to be liable to pay rent if you’re unable. The terms rent guarantor, and co-signer are often used interchangeably, so don’t get confused if someone uses one instead of the other.
Why would you need a rent guarantor?
Imagine this - a stranger knocks on your door one day, takes a look around your apartment and asks you if they could move in. Sounds scary, doesn't it? Well, that's the kind of risk homeowners and building managers take daily when renting out properties. We often see landlords as unreasonable or maybe even evil, but if you were in their shoes, wouldn't you want to vet your renters thoroughly?
Not all landlords will require you to have a rent guarantor, especially if you’re a great applicant, but as a college student with little to no income, needing a cosigner is almost unavoidable. Here are some common reasons property managers will ask you for a cosigner:
Landlords often ask tenants for references or enquire about their renting history to see whether they would be suitable tenants. If this is your first time renting a property, you will be required to have a co-signer in place of references. Excited about having your own place? Here are some budget room decor tips to get you started!
In order to qualify as a tenant for the apartment you have chosen, you must provide proof of income. The requirements change depending on the property; however, as a general rule of thumb, you are often required to show proof of income that is equal to or higher than three times the amount of one month's rent.
Candidates without a steady flow of income are also often required to have a cosigner so the landlord can ensure rent payments are made on time. If you have an excellent credit score but a history of long periods of unemployment or months without pay, that can come off as a red flag.
International students and any other non-citizens or residents are often required to have a co-signer on their leases as they often do not meet the property's requirements without one.
Responsibilities of a student rent guarantor
Having a guarantor at your side provides landlords with an extra level of assurance. While the landlord or real estate agencies can efficiently deal with the guarantor directly, this also helps you a long way to make your profile more credible and authentic, leaving better chances of finding student housing near your university.
Being a cosigner guarantor on a lease is high risk and low reward. Here are some of the primary requirements of a rent guarantor:
- Act as an assurance: They assure the landlord that the student will be able to make rent payments. If you have a cosigner, your landlord will likely allow you to make rent payments in instalments rather than in one lump sum.
- Pay rent if needed: If the student is unable to make a rent payment, their cosigner will be required to make their payment for them. Legal action may be taken against both the cosigner and the tenant if they cannot make the payment.
- Be liable for any damages: They are also liable for any damages made by the tenant during their time of stay. Damages are usually recovered through the security deposit, but if the total amount of damages done is worth more than the deposit, it will have to be paid by either the tenant or the guarantor.
Requirements of a Guarantor
The process of becoming a cosigner on a lease is relatively simple. Property owners will likely only ask for a handful of documents that will make up the bulk of the guarantor requirements, which are:
- Name & date of birth
- Phone number & email id
- National insurance number
- Proof of address
- Proof of income (tax returns)
- Most recent and past bank statements
- Bank details, including branch name and account number
Who can be a guarantor?
Finding a suitable guarantor in a new country is a tall order for international students. This could leave them in despair if they weren't around the city guide to find out how to choose a suitable guarantor for themselves. For starters, a Guarantor can be anyone you can feel to relate your stay with. They can be a living resident, a relative, or an organisation. Here are some important things to remember about who can be your guarantor:
- They must be willing to be liable on your behalf. The role of a Guarantor is to effectively take on the commitments that the main party to the tenancy agreement is taking on.
- They do not have to be your guardian. It is a common misconception that a Guarantor should be a personal connection. A Guarantor can be anyone who meets the required criteria by the landlord or agent. They can also be a third-party organisation.
- If you’re going to the UK, your guarantor must also be a local resident. However, if you are studying in the US, your guarantor need not be a resident and can be a citizen of a different country.
For more information on rent guarantors, listen to episode seven of our ask amber podcast!
How to get a guarantor?
Being a competitive industry, many local authorities have started giving out guarantor services so students can easily find UK-based guarantors. To ensure you're dealing with an authentic source, aim to contact the landlord's main office and consult your agency's legitimacy. Many local landlords are strong in market knowledge and will surely know the names of the popular guarantor services in the city. If your landlord agrees about the trustworthy nature, you can proceed with your guarantor services.
The easiest way to find a guarantor is to ask a friend or family member. However, under some circumstances, your friends and family may not be eligible to cosign your lease with you. In that case, there are a variety of services available that will help you find a local rent guarantor. Check out Amber+ to find a range of reliable service partners that can help you with your student guarantor search and much more.
Some of the popular UK guarantors for international students and residents include:
Guarantors of tenants who live in shared accommodation
Everything seems fine when it’s just you living alone. Still, when it comes to sharing an accommodation with other roommates, that’s when you need to be alert and careful. It is important to understand that the person who rents the guarantor is responsible for paying the whole amount, not just their share. It is important to read the agreement carefully, ask the landlord if you have any questions, and clarify immediately if something is unclear. Once you sign the agreement, it is your duty to follow the rules as the guarantor. You may be worried about being responsible for everyone else's rent or any damages they cause; in such cases, it is best to come clean with the landlord and see if they are ready to change the agreement.
What happens when the guarantor's liability ends?
What happens after the guarantor's responsibility ends depends on the details of the guarantee agreement or any other verbal agreements made. Some guarantee agreements have no fixed end date and state that the guarantor will be responsible for the entire tenancy or any changes to it, like rent increases or extensions.
The guarantor's responsibility might continue as long as the tenancy exists and will only end if:
- The tenant serves a valid notice to end the tenancy.
- The landlord and tenant agree to end the tenancy together.
- A court issues a possession order.
There is a possibility to argue that an open-ended guarantor agreement is not enforceable, but it would ultimately be up to a court to make a decision on this matter.
Importance of a UK guarantor for international students
Starting a life in a new country can be incredibly challenging, and building a home is one of the hardest parts of the journey. An international guarantor will allow you to rent a home easily with a UK-based guarantor there to help you out if you ever need help paying the bills. Since a local guarantor is often the requirement in most rental agreements, finding a rent guarantor is an essential part of your search for accommodation, which is why searching for a UK guarantor service for international students is very important. For tips on how to search for housing, visit our blog on things to look for when choosing accommodation.
Unfair terms in a guarantee agreement
A term in a contract could be unfair if it creates a big difference in the rights and responsibilities of the people involved. If a term is considered unfair, it can't be used or enforced by law. If a landlord tries to make a guarantor follow an unfair term in the agreement, the guarantor can ask the court to decide if the term is unfair. If the court agrees that it's unfair, they will decide if the guarantor still needs to make payments. If you think there might be an unfair term in your contract, you can talk to the Trading Standards Officer at your local authority. They can give you more advice and help you understand if the term is truly unfair or not.
Finding the perfect home is an important part of your student journey, and we want to do everything we can to help you. Finding a guarantor on the lease may seem daunting at first, but after you know and understand all the ins and outs of the entire process, it gets much simpler. We hope you’ve found this blog helpful and feel more confident in your search for a home!