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 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 thoroughly vet your renters?
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 the 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.
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 rent guarantor
Having a Guarantor alongside 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 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 rent guarantor
The process of becoming a cosigner on a lease is relatively simple. Property owners will likely only ask for a handful of documents which will include:
- 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 rent 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.
How to secure a rent guarantor
Being a competitive industry, many local authorities have started giving out guarantor services. 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.
For more information on rent guarantors listen to episode seven of our ask amber podcast!
Do you need a guarantor for student accommodation?
The majority of university-owned housing does not require a cosigner, but some do—Liverpool John Moores University is a notable example. Additionally, most student housing won't require a guarantor if you pay all or a sizable amount of your rent in advance. This is because you remove a significant portion of the risk by doing so, meaning no one is needed to support that risk. This is a common requirement for international students who frequently lack access to UK-based guarantors.
Where can you find student accommodation that will not require a guarantor?
There are many student accommodation options available that will not require a guarantor. To browse through different student accommodation options, click here.
Can a rent guarantor be retired?
A cosigner can be retired if they meet the required age and income criteria. Lenders and landlords are primarily concerned with whether your guarantor will be able to pay your bills should the need arise. They shouldn't worry too much about the guarantor's source of income—whether it comes from a pension or a working salary.
For how long is a guarantor liable?
A guarantor's obligation will last as long as the tenancy does. They will be liable for the entire period that the tenant stays in the property they have signed a lease for.
Can you stop being a rent guarantor?
It is not very easy to be released as a cosigner. If you are a guarantor and decide that you no longer want to be one, you must take the landlord's permission and draft a new lease agreement before you may be released from your obligations.
Can you change your rent guarantor?
It is not easy to change your guarantor once your agreement is signed. You might be able to work out a modification to a guarantee agreement with the landlord. Doing this would guarantee that the guarantor's obligation would be limited to your rent payments or any damage you might have caused.
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 and signing a lease may all seem like daunting tasks 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!