Find out who can be a guarantor, what to do if you can't find one and what to check in your guarantor agreement.
When you might need a guarantor
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'll have to sign a guarantor 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
Your landlord or agent can't charge extra fees if you need a guarantor. For example, they can't charge for a credit check or a guarantor agreement.
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. Check your landlord's requirements.
A landlord might reject a guarantor or ask for more information if, for example, they:
- are retired
- live abroad
- 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
Dan explains what you need to know before signing a guarantor agreement. [Video length: 01:03]
When your guarantor can be asked to pay
Check your guarantor agreement. 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 tenants' 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.
Example: 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.
A debt adviser can check if the guarantor agreement is likely to be enforceable. The agreement may be invalid if your guarantor was forced, pressured or misled into signing.
Last updated 28 November 2019 | © Shelter
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