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What is a rent guarantor?

Lydia Fitzsimons
Lydia Fitzsimons
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 8th September 2021

Before you start renting a property, you may need a rent guarantor. In this guide, Latest Deals breaks down what a rent guarantor is, who can be a rent guarantor, what to do if you can’t find a rent guarantor, and answers any question you may have.

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Rent guarantor

A rent guarantor is someone who has agreed in writing to pay your rent if you have failed to do so. When you start renting a property, your landlord may require you to have a rent guarantor. 

When do you need a rent guarantor?

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Not everyone will be asked for a rent guarantor, but your landlord may request one if:

  • You’re a student
  • You earn a low salary or are unemployed
  • Have a poor or no credit rating
  • You’re renting for the first time
  • You’ve recently moved to the UK

How to get a rent guarantor

If your landlord asks for a rent guarantor, you can ask a parent or relative to step in. If you find someone who is willing to accept the responsibility of being your guarantor, your landlord or estate agent will ask for their details (such as their income and credit history), to ensure that they are eligible. Once they have passed the reference process, they will need to sign an agreement with the landlord, making it official.

Once they have signed the agreement, they are required to cover any payments owed to your landlord, and if they don’t pay, your landlord can take them to court.

Who can be a guarantor for renting?

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Usually your guarantor will be a parent or relative as they are most likely to be willing to accept the responsibility. However, it does not need to be. 

Ultimately, the landlord or estate agent managing the property will decide their rent guarantor requirements, and so will have final say on whether your rent guarantor is suitable. Different landlords may have different criteria.

Some of the more common stipulations include:

1. The guarantor must be based in the UK.

This is because if you don’t pay your rent, and your guarantor fails to cover the costs, your landlord can take them to court, and this is much more straightforward if they’re a UK resident.

2. The guarantor should be able to fulfil their obligations.

From a landlord’s point of view, they will want to ensure that your guarantor will be able to cover the costs of the rent if it comes down to it. So, the landlord will want evidence of this. This could involve the guarantor being a homeowner themselves or providing evidence of their income.

3. It does not have to be a family member.

Although guarantors are often relatives, this is not a requirement. As long as someone is willing to act as your guarantor and they meet the requirements, they are eligible.

Being a guarantor

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If you decide to act as a rent guarantor, it’s important that you understand the obligations you’ll be expected to fulfil if the renter fails to meet the terms of the tenancy agreement. It is a big responsibility, as you could be held financially responsible if the renter does not pay.

Before signing, here is a rent guarantor checklist of things to be clear on:

  1. What is a rent guarantor liable for?
  2. How long does a rent guarantor last?
  3. What happens if the tenancy agreement changes?
  4. What happens in the case of a joint tenancy? 

What is a rent guarantor liable for?

What the guarantor is liable for will depend on the terms of your tenancy agreement. Usually, the guarantor is liable for any unpaid rent, known as rent arrears, as well as any damage to the property. 

It’s important that both the renter and the guarantor read the tenancy agreement carefully before signing it and moving into the property, so that you both understand your obligations.

How long does a rent guarantor last?

This will vary depending on your contract with the landlord. 

Often, signed guarantor agreements are left open-ended, so you may be liable even after the tenancy has ended, or if the tenancy changes. 

If the guarantor agreement is not open-ended, it’s important that you establish when your rent guarantor agreement will end, and that it is included in writing in the contract, as well as alerting you to any changes in the tenancy agreement. 

Tenancy agreement changes

If the changes are made to the tenancy agreement, the rent guarantor’s liability may come to an end. This could include the tenancy being renewed, or amended.

However, this will depend on the guarantor’s agreement with the landlord. If the guarantor consents to the change, the agreement allows for future changes or renewals, or the change is minor and doesn’t affect the terms of the tenancy, the guarantor may still be liable.

Before signing the guarantor agreement it’s important to be clear about when the guarantor’s liability will end.

Guarantors for a joint tenancy

If you’re renting a property with other people under a joint tenancy and you need a rent guarantor, that guarantor will typically be liable for the entirety of the tenancy agreement.

This means that if any of the renters fail to pay their rent, or damage the property, the guarantor will be financially responsible. This is the case, unless something in the guarantor agreement states otherwise.

Even if there are multiple guarantors, as joint tenants are ‘jointly and severally liable’ for rent, each guarantor could be held responsible for the entirety of the rent.

For example:

If a group of three students are renting a property and the landlord requires guarantors, their parents may step in. 

Each parent would be responsible for the whole sum of the rent, unless they negotiated with the landlord before signing the guarantor agreement, and agreed to only be responsible for their own child’s share of the rent.

I need a guarantor for renting but can’t find one

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If you don’t have anyone who is willing to step in as a guarantor, or who isn’t eligible to act as one, there are usually a few options to consider.

  • Pay a large portion of the rent upfront

Firstly, your landlord may be willing to accept a large portion of the rent upfront, to mitigate their risk if you don’t pay your rent.

  • Rent guarantor service

Alternatively, if you are unable to make a large payment upfront, or your landlord doesn’t offer you the option to, you can use a company to be your guarantor. There are companies that provide a rent guarantor service for a fee.

  • Local council or charities

If you can’t get a guarantor, you may be able to turn to your local council for help. You should contact your local council and enquire about possible schemes that could help you. Your local council may also be able to advise you on local charities that could help. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Most of these schemes are designed for those facing homelessness or with an urgent need to move, for example if you’ve received a Section 21 notice from your landlord asking you to move out.

Students

If you’re a student and you are struggling to find a rent guarantor, whether because you don’t have anyone willing to accept the responsibility, or no one who is eligible, you may be able to get help from your university.

You can ask your college or university about help they can offer. Options may include a hardship fund, student support services, or information about local landlords who don’t require guarantors.

When a guarantee agreement may be invalid

Your guarantee agreement may be invalid if it is deemed to be unfair. This means that there is a term in the agreement that creates ‘a significant imbalance’ between the guarantor and the landlord. 

If your landlord tries to enforce the agreement and you feel that it is unfair, you could take the matter to court, and they would decide if agreement favours the landlord. If the court decides the agreement is unfair, they will then decide if the guarantor needs to pay.

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