Learn about the what, why, when, and who of rent guarantors with our handy overview guide.
What is a rent guarantor?
Put simply, a rent guarantor is someone who agrees to accept liability for your rent (and, in some cases, damages) in the event that you are unable to pay. Under certain circumstances, a landlord will require a guarantor as a condition of offering you a tenancy in their property. Your guarantor will have to sign an agreement (we call it the Deed of Guarantee) that establishes their responsibilities and when they are liable to pay.
When do I need a rent guarantor?
There are numerous scenarios in which a landlord might request that a tenant provides a guarantor as a condition of the tenancy. The most common scenarios in which you might be asked to provide a guarantor are as follows:
- You are a full-time student.
- You have poor credit history and/or a history of rent arrears.
- You have low income or are unemployed.
- You are recently self-employed and do not have filed accounts demonstrating stable income.
The above list is not exhaustive and there are occasionally exceptions where you might be asked to provide a guarantor even where you are able to demonstrate consistent income. For instance, if your salary is paid largely in commission, it is normally only your base salary that will be considered during tenancy referencing. If your base salary is significantly lower than the income threshold the landlord deems necessary to afford the rent, you might be asked to provide a guarantor.
Who can be a rent guarantor?
Given the financial liability involved, rent guarantors are normally people that know and trust the tenant - i.e a close friend or relative. However, this is not essential and a guarantor can be anyone satisfying the following criteria:
- They have a good credit history.
- They are over 18 years old.
- They earn income or hold savings above the required rent affordability threshold.
Generally speaking, most landlords will also stipulate that guarantors must be based in the UK. At Home Made we are happy to put forward overseas guarantors to our landlords for consideration, but the decision to accept or decline falls ultimately to their discretion.
The same tenancy referencing criteria will usually apply to both prospective tenants and guarantors alike. In order to maximise the likelihood of a landlord accepting your nominated guarantor, we recommend using someone who is a permanent UK resident working under a full-time employment contract.
When can a landlord charge a rent guarantor?
The terms according to which the landlord can charge your guarantor will be established in the Deed of Guarantee. Liability is usually incurred by the following:
- Unpaid rent.
- Damages to the property.
The precise scope of the guarantee will depend on the agreement. It is common for rent guarantors to indemnify the landlord against other breaches of the tenancy agreement on behalf of the tenant. Additionally, in a joint tenancy all tenants are ‘jointly and severally liable’ for the rent and each tenant can be held liable for the total amount of the rent. A guarantor can be held liable for the rental share of each tenant unless stated otherwise in the guarantor agreement.
What happens if I can’t find a rent guarantor?
There are alternative options available if you aren’t able to provide a guarantor. One such option is to pay some or all of your rent up front. This may prove prohibitively expensive for many tenants, but for those with the facility to do so this removes the requirement for a guarantor.
If you are an international student and are struggling to find a UK-based rent guarantor to support your tenancy application, it is worth checking with your university to see if they offer a rent guarantor scheme (see this example from Imperial College London). Many institutions understand that it can be difficult for overseas students to secure private rental accommodation and have introduced schemes to provide additional support.
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