Guarantors Explained

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A guarantor is anyone who agrees to be responsible for the payment of someone else’s debt (if that person defaults on the payment). Guarantors are required in a number of financial situations. For example, they can guarantee rental payments or be responsible for paying for damage you cause as a tenant. When a guarantor enters into an agreement for your apartment, they are legally bound to accept the liabilities of the rental agreement on your behalf.

Use of a guarantor works like insurance for the landlord, in case you are unable to meet your obligations under the lease or rental agreement. By having a second person assume the obligations, your landlord is guaranteed payment, according to the terms of the lease.

Who Needs a Guarantor?

You may need a guarantor if you are a student, a person with with a short working history or have a bad credit rating. When you apply to rent an apartment, your landlord will check your employment history, income and credit score. If any of these checks show that you may be unable to pay your monthly rent or would be unable to pay for damage you cause to the apartment, your landlord might ask you to have a guarantor sign a document on your behalf.

The Guarantor Process

If your landlord requires a guarantor, you will be notified of this fact after your rental application has been processed. Most landlords will supply a form for the guarantor to fill out. This form acts as a separate application to determine the financial suitability of the person who is applying to be the guarantor. Typically, such a form is completed by a family member who is willing to accept financial responsibility on behalf of a relative.

Most landlords have a separate guarantor agreement, which must be signed in addition to the lease. Some landlords prefer to make the guarantor agreement part of the rental agreement. This entails a clause at the bottom of your lease, or rental agreement, stating the liability of the guarantor.

The person who acts as guarantor must be more financially stable than you are. Their income and credit rating must be sufficient to assure your landlord that they can meet the financial obligations created by the lease. Otherwise, your landlord may reject them for being too risky (since neither of you has the financial qualifications necessary to afford the terms of the lease).

Benefits of a Guarantor

By using a guarantor, someone who might not otherwise meet the financial requirements to rent an apartment is given an opportunity to do so. If you find yourself in this position, be aware that if you have a joint tenancy where the tenants are individually and severally responsible for the lease (i.e. your roommates also sign the lease), the guarantor will be responsible for their payments and damage caused by them, not just yours. Some guarantors will be reluctant to sign for you under these terms, so you should discuss this with them before signing the lease.

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Lisa Bernstein: As a long-time apartment dweller and seasoned condominium trustee, I have dealt with numerous landlord-tenant, property management, and day-to-day apartment complex issues. My extensive, direct experience has led to invaluable insights into apartment life from both the tenant and management perspectives.

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