Renting with a guarantor: 10 common questions explained!

With the outrageous rental prices of big cities like New York, Chicago or San Francisco, and landlords requiring a proof of income of at least 3 times the rent it is not a surprise that young Americans find the road to their first apartment more and more difficult every year. Thankfully, renting with a lease guarantor is a viable solution that can help you to make the renting process less tedious. 

In this article we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about renting with a guarantor that will help you to understand better what is a lease guarantor and whether it could help you to land your next apartment. 

You can jump to the questions that interest you the most by using our table of content. We started answering the most basics concerns and then moved forward to the most complex ones. 

What is a lease guarantor

A guarantor is a person who signs the apartment lease with you and takes the responsibility of the lease if you fail to fulfill the obligations that you agreed to when you signed the contract with your landlord.  

In simple words, a guarantor is usually a family member or a close friend that will be legally responsible for paying the rent to your landlord if you can’t pay anymore. If you don’t have someone willing to be your guarantor several companies can act as one in exchange for a fee. 

Having a lease guarantor who is credit-worthy can help the landlord be sure that someone with a good credit score and a considerable proof of income can step up if something bad happens with the apartment rental.

Cosigner vs guarantor, what is the difference?

A co-signer is a person who signs the rent with you and has the right to live in the apartment too, so he is as responsible of paying the rent as you, while a guarantor is someone who won’t be occupying the unit but will be responsible of paying the rent only in the case that you stop doing it. 

It is important to notice that several landlords use the terms guarantor and co-signer as synonyms, so we suggest to always clarify this with your landlord  before you start the rental process so you can avoid confusions.

Do all landlords require a guarantor?

No, the landlord will require a guarantor only when he considers your financial situation to be weak enough to support the rent and feels that there is a risk that you stop paying it. 

When a guarantor is needed to rent?

A landlord can consider that a guarantor is needed to rent when you fail to demonstrate that you have the necessary income to pay the rent. 

There are several cases when a landlord might consider that you need a lease guarantor in order to be eligible to rent so we will list the most common ones below:

  • You don’t make three times the rent: landlords often require a minimum income of three times the cost of the rent (we even have a full article explaining this rule that you can read here!) So when you don’t have it, a lease guarantor can help you to show the landlord that no matter what, the rent will always be paid. 
  • You are a non-resident or a student from abroad: if you have just moved to America you won’t have any credit score in the country and, while some landlords can accept your international credit history, most of them will require a lease guarantor.
  • You are a college student: because most college students don’t work or only work a few hours in low paying jobs, landlords require their parents to act as a guarantor.
  • You have been evicted before: in this case your new landlord will be afraid that this situation will occur again so a guarantor will be needed to rent.
  • You are self employed: it is not uncommon in cases of self employment that the landlord asks for more than three times the rent or requires a guarantor. This happens because the landlord considers that your job isn’t as stable as if you were employed by a company. 

Who can be a guarantor for renting?

There is no explicit requirement about who can be your guarantor but the landlord will look for a good credit score, a high salary and a large savings account. 

In cities where it is common to own the home where you live in (think more about Pittsburgh or Austin and less about New York and San Francisco) having a guarantor that owns a property will be valued by your landlord. 

Can a pensioner be a guarantor for renting?

Most landlords will accept pensioners who are retired if they can show proof of savings and good credit score. However, if the pensioner receives government support for any other cause it is unlikely that he will be accepted by the landlord as he probably won’t meet the financial requirements 

What is a lease guarantor company?

A lease guarantor company is a company that can act as a your guarantor in exchange for a fee that will usually be around 70-90% of the cost of a month of rent. 

The most well known services are Liberty Rent, Insurent, Leap Easy and The Guarantors. However not every lease guarantor company works with any apartment so we recommend you to check with your landlord before asking for a quote. 

How many guarantors can you have on a lease?

There is no limit on how many guarantors you can have on a lease but most landlords won’t accept more than one. 

If you are lucky enough a landlord can accept two guarantors if your primarily guarantor don’t have a great financial profile, but this is not common and in most of the cases you will need to hire a lease guarantor service. 

How much does a guarantor need to earn?

Because a guarantor needs to be even more qualified than a tenant, landlords usually ask them to earn between 5x and 8x times the rent. For example, if you are looking to rent an apartment for $1500 per month then your guarantor should at least make $90000 per year.

Does the guarantor have to sign lease renewal?

Yes, they will need to sign the lease again in order to continue as a guarantor. However, if your financial situation has changed since you signed the first contract you can always talk about it with your landlord in order to see if a guarantor is needed for the renewal.

Can a guarantor break a lease?

Your guarantor can’t break your lease and neither can ask to stop being your guarantor for the period that he signed with your landlord. If he wishes to no longer be a guarantor he will need to wait until the lease is finished.

Do you feel that we left important questions unanswered? Feel free to drop us your concerns in the comments and we will include them in our guide! 

We have also curated below a list of key articles that you should read if you are hunting for an apartment:

About Chad & Rachel

Rachel and Chad have over 17 years of experience as both renters and landlords. They were tenants in 7 different apartments before becoming landlords of 9 apartments in Chicago. Renting apartments from landlords and being landlords themselves have helped them gain the knowledge that they want to share with renters. Whether you are at the beginning of your rental journey or in the middle of your lease and dealing with complex apartment issues, we are happy to help where we can. Read more about Rachel and Chad, or send a message using this contact form.

Leave a Comment