Guarantors for private renters
Some landlords and agents ask for a guarantor before they'll offer you a tenancy.
A guarantor agrees to pay your rent if you don't pay it. They sign an agreement which confirms their responsibilities and when they have to pay.
You might be asked for one if you:
have poor or no credit history in the UK
are a student or renting for the first time
are unemployed or have a low income
move to the UK from overseas
Who can be a guarantor
Guarantors are usually a relative or close friend of the tenant, but they don't have to be.
Guarantors usually need a good credit history and income or savings above a certain amount.
A landlord might reject a guarantor or ask for more information if, for example, they:
don't own a property
Your landlord might carry out a credit check on your guarantor or ask for proof of their income, savings or other financial details.
Options if you can't get a guarantor
You may not need a guarantor if you can pass a credit check or show proof of income.
If you have a poor credit history or low income, a landlord may still rent to you if you can pay some rent in advance.
Some councils and charities have rent deposit, bond and guarantee schemes that:
give cash to help with rent in advance and a deposit
act as a guarantor service and cover unpaid rent or damage up to a certain amount
You may have to pay back any money paid on your behalf.
Money you don't have to pay back
You might be able to get a discretionary housing payment (DHP) if you claim housing benefit or universal credit where you live now.
Some charities offer grants to people in need. Use the Turn2Us grants search to find out if you can get help.
Ask your university or college about any funds or support available. They might have:
a hardship fund
student support services
details of landlords who don't require a guarantor
The guarantor agreement
The guarantor agreement is a legal document. It should be read carefully before signing.
Make sure you understand:
when the landlord can ask a guarantor to pay them money
how long the guarantor agreement lasts
what happens in a joint tenancy
Make sure you and your guarantor are happy with what you're asked to agree to.
3 things you need to know before agreeing to be a guarantor
3 things you need to know before agreeing to be a guarantor.
What are guarantors liable for?
If you agree to be a guarantor for someone, you'll be liable if they don't pay the rent.
Depending on what you've signed, you may also be asked to pay for any damage to the property. Check the guarantor agreement to see what you might have to pay.
Joint tenancies and liability for rent
For joint tenancies your guarantor agreement will normally apply to the rent for the whole property, not just one tenant's share.
That means if any of the other tenants don't pay, the landlord or agent can still pursue you for the arrears.
Consider asking for a guarantor agreement that only covers your friend or family member's portion of the overall rent.
How long are guarantors liable for?
You'll be liable for any unpaid rent for the initial fixed term contract. If the tenant stays on after that, it will usually depend on what you've agreed to.
You might be able to argue that your liability ends if:
there's been any change to the terms of the tenancy, or
the guarantor agreement wasn't properly explained to you, or you felt under pressure to agree
Dan explains what you need to know before signing a guarantor agreement. [Video length: 01:03]
When your guarantor can be asked to pay
Most landlords can ask the guarantor to pay if the tenant:
fails to pay rent
causes damage to the property
The landlord could apply for a county court judgment (CCJ) against both you and the guarantor if neither of you pay what's been agreed.
How long a guarantor agreement lasts
There's no general rule about how long a guarantor agreement lasts. It depends on what's agreed between the landlord and the guarantor.
Your guarantor should speak to the landlord if they don't want their liability to continue beyond the end of a fixed term tenancy.
If the landlord agrees, this should be clearly set out in the guarantor agreement.
A court can decide if the guarantor agreement is still in place if it's unclear.
Changes to the tenancy
A rent increase or new tenancy usually means that the guarantor agreement no longer applies unless either:
the guarantor agreement states that it will continue in these situations
your guarantor agrees to the change
Guarantors for a joint tenancy
Joint tenants are 'jointly and severally liable' for rent. This means each joint tenant can be held liable for the total amount of rent, not just their share.
A guarantor agreement for a joint tenancy works in the same way. A guarantor will be liable for every tenant's rent unless something in the agreement says otherwise.
If there's more than one guarantor, each one should sign the guarantor agreement and agree to any changes.
In a shared student house the landlord might ask parents to guarantee the rent.
Each parent could be held liable for the whole rent unless they negotiate an agreement which states they only have to cover their child's share.
When a guarantor agreement may be invalid
Guarantors should be given copies of both the tenancy agreement and the guarantor agreement before they agree to anything.
All liabilities and the risks involved should be explained to them before they agree to act as your guarantor.
Need more help?
Find out about:
Extra help if you claim universal credit
Utility bills and your rights
Emergency grants, loans and money help
Last updated: 4 May 2022