This is usually a parent or guardian who agrees to pay any rent arrears on your behalf if you fall behind with payments or are unable to meet your obligations as a tenant. Being asked to provide a guarantor is quite common – it’s not due to a lack of trust and it’s no reflection on you as a person.
Applying to rent a property
Most rental agreements in the UK are assured shorthold tenancy agreements, which is basically a tenancy contract between you and the landlord. Part of the application process involves checking to make sure you can pay the rent and agree to look after the property. This usually includes:
- A reference from a previous landlord or lettings agent.
- Bank details and a credit check to see your financial health.
- Employment history including your current employer and salary.
- Address history for the last three years.
When is a guarantor needed?
If you’re not fully approved by the referencing process or the landlord has any concerns about your financial situation, you might be asked to provide a guarantor. You might also need one if this is your first private rental, if you’ve been living in another country, or if you don’t have a steady income – like if you’re a student or were temporarily unemployed.
As you might expect, not everyone can be a guarantor. To qualify, they must tick all of the following boxes:
- Aged between 18–75 years old.
- Have a good credit history.
- Able to financially afford your rent.
- Be a UK resident.
But before you ask them to sign on the dotted line, they’ll probably want to know what the whole business entails.
What does it mean to be a guarantor?
Guarantors are responsible for covering any rent arrears and damage to the property if the tenant defaults or can’t pay for whatever reason. So, it’s not something to be taken lightly. In addition, a guarantor is usually responsible for the whole property, even in the case of a joint tenancy.
For example, if you move into a shared house under a joint tenancy, a guarantor will usually cover everyone under that contract – not just your ‘share’ – unless it says otherwise in the small print.
It’s also worth mentioning that a guarantor will normally have to go through the same referencing process as the tenant.
What if you can’t find a guarantor?
If you’re a student, you might be able to find a rent guarantee scheme through your university. It’s best to check this with your students’ union or accommodation department. For non-students, you could try contacting the local council to see if they have a Rent Deposit Scheme or a Rent Guarantee Scheme, which is basically a loan for the deposit and a written guarantee to help get you started.
You might also be able to get around the issue of finding a guarantor by offering to pay the landlord a larger up-front deposit, such as six months of rent in advance.
Lastly, don’t forget that there are other options outside of the private rental market such as renting a room from a live-in landlord (which can involve fewer checks) or applying for a council house or flat.
If you’re not sure whether you need a guarantor to rent a property in London, ask the agent marketing the property. They should be able to give you some idea before you go through the application process. And if you’re asked to provide one, remember that a guarantor helps to protect both the tenant and landlord. It’s nothing to worry about, and the whole process is usually fairly straightforward. Just ask your estate agent if you have any questions or concerns.
If you’re currently looking to rent a house or a flat in East London, don’t forget to search our properties to let to find the best neighbourhoods to suit your commute and lifestyle in London. Whether you’re a student, recently moved from overseas or already know the city like the back of your hand, we can help you find a place to call home.
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