Lease guarantors and cosigners: What are they and why would you need one?

For first-time renters in a competitive housing market, the apartment application process can be overwhelming. There are usually a handful of requirements to become a viable tenant (think income threshold and credit score), which you may not be able to fulfill on your own. 

Don’t worry, though: Few young professionals are actually able to sign an apartment lease on their own. If you can get a guarantor to help you secure the lease, you’ll be set. Here’s what you need to know about this important role.

white paper stating lease agreement on yellow background with a cup of coffee to the right of the papers

Table of contents

What is a lease guarantor?Why would you need a rent guarantor?What are the requirements for a guarantor?Who can act as your guarantor?

What is a lease guarantor?

A guarantor is a person who will co-sign an apartment lease alongside a tenant, guaranteeing to pay the rent if the tenant fails to do so. The guarantor is usually a parent, family member, or close friend who is willing to be legally responsible for the rental apartment.

In the context of renting apartments, the terms guarantor and co-signer are sometimes used interchangeably. Both guarantors and co-signers are responsible for paying the rent if it goes unpaid by the tenants.

Why would you need a rent guarantor?

Oftentimes, there is a financial requirement to become a tenant. In New York City, landlords often require that the tenant have an income of 40 times the monthly rent. For many first-time renters and young professionals, especially those living in expensive cities like San Francisco, where the average rent for a studio apartment is about $2,300, this requirement is difficult or impossible to meet. If your income does not meet the requirement set by your landlord, you may ask a financially stable guarantor to co-sign your lease instead.

 Another reason you might need a guarantor is if you have little rental history or credit history, or a bad credit score. Recent graduates might not have had much time to build up credit, so landlords do not have proof of financial responsibility. Prospective tenants with bad credit may have a difficult time finding landlords willing to take on the risk, so a guarantor is a way to overcome this roadblock. 


someone holding a key handing over to another person filling out paperwork

What are the requirements for a guarantor?

The financial requirements for a guarantor are more extensive than those of a tenant. Typically, a guarantor must have an income of 80 to 100 times the monthly rent of the apartment they are offering to guarantee. In order to demonstrate that a guarantor meets the income requirement, they must submit the following documents and information.

  • Pay stubs

  • Tax returns

  • Bank statements

  • Social security number

Who can act as your guarantor?

Family members and close friends are the best options when choosing a guarantor. If you can’t find a guarantor you know personally, there are services designed to help. For example, Insurent is a company that will act as your guarantor on your lease agreement for a fee of about 80 percent of one month’s rent. In order to get approved for such a service, you must have good credit and meet a smaller income requirement than the one in place by your landlord. 

Bungalow offers private rooms in shared homes in desirable neighborhoods for less than solo living options like studios and one bedroom apartments. Find a Bungalow near you.

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