What is a Guarantor and Why Do I Need One?

Whether you’re an international student or a first-time renter — you may find the “guarantor” requirement on your dream apartment’s lease a bit confusing! No matter your situation, understanding what guarantors are, why they’re required by many apartment properties, and what to do if you can’t find a guarantor is key to landing your dream rental home.

If the fine print on your apartment contract is only making you more confused, turn to ApartmentSearch for the ultimate guide on what that “Personal Guarantee of Lease” addendum means!

What is a Guarantor? 

A guarantor is like a cosigner — an individual or organization who signs a legally binding lease addendum which “guarantees” they will fulfill a tenant’s obligations in case said tenant fails to meet them. 

In the majority of leases, guarantors must meet certain standards, like submitting proof that allows them to cover rent on behalf of a tenant and a credit check showing a favorable score and history. 

If a tenant fails to meet their financial obligations, a property manager can hold the guarantor accountable for the renter’s debts by taking them to court or sending them to collections, which can result in long-lasting credit damage.

Why Do Apartments Require Guarantors? 

Delinquency and non-payment are among landlords’ biggest headaches, and they’re also the most significant reason why many property owners and managers require that tenants get a trusted friend or loved one to cosign their lease.

When a guarantor cosigns a lease, they effectively vouch for the tenant, agreeing to put their credit (and in some cases, their assets) on the line in case of non-payment, expensive property damage, etc.

Who Needs Guarantors? 

You may be surprised if you hear that your apartment property doesn’t require guarantors for all their tenants. However, in many cases, landlords and property managers determine whether a guarantor is necessary or not based on their findings from your rental application.

Often, renters who need guarantors to lease an apartment meet at least one of the following criteria. 

  • Have little or no credit 
  • Have a dinged rental history, or even an eviction on their record 
  • Lack proof of income 
  • Are first-time renters or foreign citizens without U.S.-based rental histories

How Do I Get a Guarantor? 

If you’re an international student, first-time renter, or someone trying to find a new apartment following an eviction, you may be scratching your head thinking, “where the heck do I find someone to cosign a lease with me?” Check out your options below.

1. Ask a trusted family member or friend. 

Students living off-campus for the first-time often turn to their parents to serve as their guarantors. However, if your parents do not have the credit history or financial means to qualify, you may choose to ask a friend, partner, or extended family member. 

Remember, asking someone to be your guarantor is a big deal, so don’t take it personally if you’re turned down! 

2. Use a guarantor service.

Guarantor services are exactly what they sound like — businesses that specialize in cosigning a lease with tenants who don’t have an individual guarantor. 

Usually, guarantor companies require a “guaranty fee” based on the cost of the lease and the tenants’ credit history.If a tenant fails to meet the financial obligations outlined in their lease, the guarantor services are obligated to pay on their behalf. However, that doesn’t mean the renter is off the hook — guarantor services can and will collect any debt they pay for their renters along with any legal fees associated with collection.

It is important to note that not all rental properties accept guarantor services in place of individual, credit-worthy cosigners, so make sure to double-check before going for this option! 

3. Offer to pay more upfront. 

Certain property managers may afford renters some flexibility if they can’t secure a guarantor, especially if they are having a hard time leasing the unit in question. If you’re a renter without a guarantor, you may try and negotiate with your leasing agent or property manager.

For instance, you can start out by offering to double the security deposit, and they may counter by requiring you to pay three-six months’ rent in advance. Depending on your financial situation, this may be a more favorable option than the ones mentioned above. Just remember to get any agreement you and your property manager come to on paper, it might save you a great deal of time and money once your lease ends! 

No Guarantor, No Apartment? 

Is the property you had in mind not willing to entertain any alternatives to a guarantor? In that case, you’re probably better off finding an apartment with more flexible policies. Don’t be discouraged though, with ApartmentSearch’s advanced rental property filters, you can easily find a place that fits your budget and requirements.