Whether you’re a student or working professional from the UK or abroad and want to rent property in the private sector, you may find that landlords and letting agents ask you for a guarantor. A guarantor is someone who signs a document agreeing to pay the rent or cover damage to the property if you cannot pay.
Guarantors are usually required to be UK residents who own property.
So what do you do if your parents are not home owners or based in the UK or if you are an international student with no family or friends in the UK?
Your first option would be to pay the rent in advance for the length of the contract but this will be a challenge for most students! Your second option would be to pay a company to be your guarantor.
There is a small number of guarantor agents on the market and many landlords and agents will accept them to act as your guarantor as they would a friend or a family member. This can be especially useful if you are an international student.
Housing Hand, www.housinghand.co.uk is one company offering such a service. You go to their website, enter your details and get a free quote. Providing this service starts from £295 depending on your individual circumstances and they also offer the option of splitting this fee over 1 – 8 month instalments to make the payment a little easier to manage.
If you are a student, to qualify for a rental guarantor, you would need to provide proof of your study in the UK, this can be provided by your university, a photo ID and details of a co-signer. A co-signer is a friend or relative that would be willing and able to cover your rent should you fail to do so and/or be responsible for paying back any debts owed to Housing Hand for rent they cover on your behalf in the case of a default. This co-signer does NOT have to be a UK home owner nor live in the UK.
Another company is www.rentguarantor.com who provide the service using similar criteria with costs starting from £250. They also ask for a co-signer however, this time the co-signer will not be legally liable for any debt accrued but acts more as a secondary contact for you. They do not however as of yet, offer a payment instalment plan.
When using a guarantor service you will be entering into a legal and binding agreement with them and you should be fully aware of your responsibilities and obligations under this agreement and familiarise yourself with the legal implications of not paying your rent. All of these services will seek to recover any debt that you may accrue as a result of you defaulting on your rent via the courts and legal costs would be levied against you for such action. Failure to pay your rent could also result in a County Court Judgement against you.
You should also check with the guarantor service what your rights are if you sign a joint and several tenancy agreement. These agreements are widely used in the private letting sector and would mean that you and the people you live with are all jointly liable for the rent under the contract and this could mean that if one of your housemates defaults on the rent, you would find yourself liable for paying their share as well as your own. Guarantor services may only cover your share of the rent and will not cover anybody else’s share so always be mindful of the possible pitfalls when not only applying to rent a property on a joint and several tenancy but ensure you are financially secure and aware of just what a guarantor service will and will not provide should the worst happen.
Always check with the landlord and/or letting agent that they will accept this form of guarantor and ensure you receive your quote for the service BEFORE putting in an offer on a property and signing any agreements.