The approval process for a new apartment can be tricky and nerve-wracking, especially when a credit check and income requirements come up. 

When searching for a new home, many renters will come across the phrases “guarantor” and “co-signer.” Some properties require certain renters to provide a guarantor or co-signer in order to get approved for a lease agreement. Whether or not you’ll be asked to provide a guarantor is largely based on factors like having bad credit, your rental history (including evictions), and other considerations such as being a college student or citizen of a foreign country. 

Fortunately, you have a few options when selecting your guarantor if you need one during the leasing process. To satisfy the requirement, you can use a person or a company as a guarantor. Regardless of which one you select, they will be legally and financially responsible if you don’t pay your monthly rent on time. So choose wisely. 

What exactly is a guarantor?

Put simply, a guarantor guarantees that your rent will be paid on time and in full in order to provide an added layer of protection for your landlord. Possible guarantors include parents, family members, and close friends. If you miss rent payments, the guarantor has to pay them for you.

Graphic featuring the definition of a guarantor

The guarantor you choose should have a good credit score and good credit history, a strong rental history, and satisfy the typical income requirement of 40x one month’s rent.  Requiring a lease guarantor is a way for your landlord to reinforce your financial responsibility. 

Your guarantor will be required to submit many of the same move-in documents that you’ll submit. All guarantors are required to submit their own lease application, provide proof of income usually via pay stubs, a credit report, and actually sign your lease and rental agreement. 

What’s the difference between a lease guarantor and a co-signer?

Good question! Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference between guarantors and co-signers. While both guarantors and co-signers guarantee your rent, the word co-signer is technically assigned to someone who guarantees your rent and also lives in the apartment with you. So what that means is all co-signers are guarantors, but not all guarantors are co-signers. 

Graphic that includes a venn diagram showing the differences and similarities between a guarantor and a co-signer

How do I know if I need a lease guarantor? 

Guarantors and co-signers serve two main purposes:

1. Your landlord can require a guarantor for you to be considered for the lease

  • Typically, landlords will require a guarantor if you have poor credit, inconsistent employment, are a first time renter or don’t meet other move-in qualifications

2. Your landlord can suggest you submit a guarantor to increase your chances of getting the apartment in competitive application processes:

  • If your landlord is choosing between your rental application or someone else’s, having a guarantor to guarantee your rent can make your application more competitive. 

What if I can’t find a lease guarantor?

Many renters face this problem, but luckily it’s an easy one to solve. If you can’t find a close friend or family member to act as your guarantor, you can use a third party service to satisfy the requirement. Rhino offers lease guaranty service and security deposit insurance that is affordable for renters and gives landlords the financial stability they need. If you do elect to go with one of these third-party services, make sure you fully understand the situations where you’ll be financially responsible, as every company is different.

Graphic that shows how Rhino offers lease guaranty service and security deposit insurance

Figuring out the best way to qualify for a lease can be challenging and confusing, but understanding how guarantors and co-signers work is a big step in signing that dotted line and unlocking a new beginning for yourself and your family. To recap, a guarantor is nothing more than a person or third party service that guarantees your rent. While there is a small difference between guarantors and co-signers, they are both ways to strengthen your rental application and maximize your chances to be approved. And remember not to give up. If you can’t find anyone to act as your guarantor. Every renter should familiarize themselves with third party services that increase their chances of approval.

Larenz Brown

Larenz Brown is a copywriter at Rhino who wants to tell stories that empower people. He once engaged in a 365-day staredown with a security deposit and emerged victorious.