Landlord, tenant or guarantor – we’ve got the answers to your most important questions.
Renting is a big financial commitment involving risk for both landlord and tenant. If you’re a landlord who’s not confident that a prospective tenant can pay the rent – or you’re a student or recent graduate finding it difficult to prove you can afford the rent, or you can’t pay a whopping 12 months’ rent upfront – it’s worth considering getting a rent guarantor.
What is a rent guarantor?
A rent guarantor is a person, a company or an institution that agrees to be a tenant’s financial back-up. If the tenant doesn’t or can’t pay the monthly rent, the guarantor is liable to pay for them. They are legally bound to cover all the tenant’s debts – which could be thousands of pounds – so that the landlord is not out of pocket. This is why many tenants turn to their parents, other family member or a very close friend to be their guarantor.
Who can be a rent guarantor?
A financially stable individual, a specialist company, or an academic institution.
A guarantor needs to have more money than the tenant, generally be a UK resident and UK home owner (it’s much harder to chase debt abroad), and be willing to go through rigorous checks, including a credit check and any other check the landlord requests to prove they can afford to cover the tenant’s costs on top of their own living expenses.
Thankfully, these days there are several alternative options if friends or family can’t or won’t help out. We talk about this in more detail below.
Is a rent guarantor liable for unpaid rent?
Yes. Which is why the role is a serious responsibility and should not be taken on lightly, nor without being crystal clear about exactly what’s being signed up to. There are many stories of guarantors who find themselves surprised and stressed that they’re being asked to pay their relative’s rent.
As with any legal contract, always check what the guarantor agreement says. A guarantee agreement may also state that the guarantor is responsible for other conditions under the tenancy, such as:
- unpaid bills, including council tax
- damage caused to the property
- if a shared property, other joint tenants’ unpaid rent
- legal costs faced by the landlord because of the tenant.
Be absolutely sure of your obligations, as they’re difficult to get out of.
On a positive note, a guarantor is free to negotiate the terms of the guarantee agreement with the landlord before signing anything.
When can a landlord contact a guarantor?
When your tenant owes you money. At this point you can send a rent demand letter to the guarantor. Send copies of all correspondence about rent arrears or other breaches of the tenancy agreement to the guarantor. The guarantor could become liable for the debt if the tenant doesn’t pay.
I need a rent guarantor but can’t find one. What do I do?
Good news; you have options, especially if you’re a student. Your university or a specialist company can potentially act as your guarantor. Both work with letting agents and landlords to ensure the agreement is professional and legally binding.
For a fee, rent guarantor services will act as your UK guarantor. How much you pay depends on the amount of rent you plan to pay, and whether you’re working.
UK Guarantor https://ukguarantor.com/ can secure you a rent guarantor the same day you apply.
YourGuarantor https://www.yourguarantor.com/ acts as a UK guarantor for students attending UK universities for at least 3.5% of the rent, with no minimum fee.
Housing Hand https://www.housinghand.co.uk/ helps UK-based students, recent graduates and working professionals get their first choice of accommodation .
All let you apply online for free.
Many universities, including the London School of Economics, offer their own rent guarantor service open to both UK-native and international students. It lets your university act as your guarantor to help you become a private renter and pay your monthly rent in full and on time.
Note that even these schemes require the meeting of certain criteria. For example, you don’t owe them money, and you have a satisfactory academic record.
How much does a rent guarantor need to earn?
It depends on what the individual landlord asks of them, but generally it’s three times the amount of the rent. Often, proof of income isn’t enough, however. Strict landlords will likely need a guarantor to be a UK homeowner and have ample savings, too.
What happens if a rent guarantor refuses to pay?
If the rent guarantor refuses or fails to cover any unpaid costs, the landlord can take legal action against the guarantor.
How can I stop being a rent guarantor?
It’s not easy but it is possible, typically when there’s a change in the tenancy agreement. For example, a change to the rental fee or a renewal of the tenancy would count as a variation unless:
- the tenancy agreement says that the guarantee applies to any future variations or renewals, or
- the guarantor agrees to the variation.
Can rent guarantors give notice?
As a general rule, no. Not within the fixed term of the agreement. However, as always, it depends on the wording of the guarantee. You might be responsible for covering rent arrears for however long the tenancy lasts, and for any increases in the rent. But if the tenancy turns into a periodic tenancy, the guarantor can then give one month’s notice.
What checks are done on a rent guarantor?
A guarantor goes through the same detailed referencing process as a tenant, including credit checks, a CCJ check and employer checks, plus extra checks, such ownership of property with HM Land Registry.
What happens if a guarantor can’t pay the rent?
Unless the guarantee provisions say otherwise, the guarantor carries on being liable even if s/he falls ill or loses their job.
If they’re declared bankrupt, then depending on the circumstances, the landlord may be a creditor in the bankruptcy for anything owed. And if the guarantor was to die, the landlord may be able to claim against their estate. Again, it depends on individual circumstances and what it says in the guarantee agreement.