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Property managers have likely heard of the term apartment guarantor and may request one from the applicant before they can get a new apartment. Whether you're in New York City or elsewhere, this person guarantees the lease and promises that if the tenant falls behind on payments, they are responsible.

In a sense, this person is a co-signer for the apartment, and most landlords like the idea of this. It sounds good, and there aren't many drawbacks for the property owner or manager.

What's a Lease Guarantor?

A guarantor guarantees the lease in case the tenant doesn't qualify on their own for a New York City apartment. This could mean that the tenant has a low income or a less than excellent credit score.

Overall, the guarantor is a co-signer, so he or she can co-sign the lease agreement and then must assume financial responsibility if the person cannot pay.

Landlords often require a guarantor for other reasons than income or credit history. You may find that they have irregular income or employment, a lot of credit activity, or some negative remarks from other landlords.

Regardless, you can ask for someone to co-sign the lease agreement. They need superior credentials, such as double the required income and a great credit score. With that, they must fill out the application, have credit pulled, provide documentation on income, and sign the lease.

Generally, a guarantor service offers financial stability to the tenant and ensures that the landlord has someone else legally responsible. This is a third-party service that can help both you and the tenant.

Many times, people who want their dream apartment must use a guarantor at the lease signing to get the financial proof necessary.

When Does Your Tenant Require a Guarantor?

If your tenant has a bad credit history or no credit at all, bringing in a guarantor is crucial for them to get the apartment. Another situation where you may tell the tenant they need a guarantor is if they don't make about 40 times the monthly rent; they don't make enough money.

Sometimes, a property manager can ask for a guarantor if the tenant is just shy of the traditional qualification standards. Other times, they might meet them, but you still see something in their profile that causes doubt in your mind. That could include old collections on their credit report, income fluctuations each year, and more.

Most people, during the apartment hunting process, are young who have a short credit history. Foreign nationals and the self-employed may also be in the same situation.

Though the tenant may have poor credit, you don't have to turn them away. Co-signers can help with the security deposit and provide a steady income where the tenant can't.

Can Anyone Be a Guarantor for Monthly Rent?

A lease guarantor can be virtually anyone willing to co-sign the lease. That said, some landlords request that the guarantor be a family member or close friend. In other words, you don't want the tenant to use a casual acquaintance they barely know because they are now equally responsible for the rent.

Most guarantors are parents or another type of guardian figure.

Foreigners often find relatives who live in the US to meet the financial requirements. If that's not possible, they can get third-party co-signers. Typically, you should ask that the guarantor be local or in-state, but it's up to you and the situation if you accept out-of-state ones. Just make sure that the guarantor isn't out-of-country with no credit or finances in the US.

Who Qualifies as a Guarantor?

To become a co-signer on the lease, the guarantor needs to make roughly 80 times the monthly rent. They also need a good credit score and must meet the income requirement.

Therefore, if you charge a monthly rent of $2,000 a month, the guarantor must prove they earn $160,000 per year.

The reason that landlords want to go with the 80x instead of 40x requirement is that the guarantor has to prove they can cover the tenant's rent while managing their own finances. You do have a say in the amount, which can be up to 90 times the rent. It depends on your preferences.

What Credit History Does the Guarantor Require?

Both guarantors and tenants must agree to a background check and a credit check. They should also provide appropriate documentation to prove their income. Overall, the guarantor is applying for the apartment and must fill out a rental application, just like the tenant.

With that, a guarantor needs good credit, and most landlords require them to be in the excellent range (750 or higher). However, each landlord is different; you can make note of the requirements on your lease application to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Landlords should be aware that people with great credit don't take chances by not paying the bills. This can give you peace of mind and take the pressure off of you.

You should also know that the latest FICO model factors into the tenant's rental payments. You can use this as a benefit of getting a guarantor. Tell your tenant that they can boost their credit scores if they make all the rental payments and avoid late fees.

What Information Must the Guarantor Provide?

When applying as a guarantor, they need:

  • Copies of their government-issued ID (passport or driver's license)
  • Copies of the most recent tax returns (two years)
  • Copies of pay stubs
  • Copies of monthly bank statements (two months' worth)
  • Letter from their employment stating position, duration, and salary

Even with a guarantor lease, the tenant (the person living there) must both fill out an application. Each one must pay a separate application fee, which ranges from $25 to $200. You should already have this information in your application for rent to avoid issues later.

Though good credit is crucial, the guarantor must meet the income requirement so that you know they can pay rent on the tenant's apartment and cover their own bills. They are the ones who are responsible, but you can check on this as a landlord. It's often better to understand who you're dealing with.

Is the Guarantor Put on the Lease? Do They Now Have a Rental History?

Yes, the guarantor is put on the lease because they are vouching for the tenant. Often, many landlords draw up a separate lease agreement for the co-signer because they have a lesser involvement here.

The tenant can't be handed the keys to their new apartment until they have covered the security deposit and the first month's rent (in most cases). Therefore, if the tenant might need a guarantor, issues can arise if they are living abroad or out of state. Some landlords allow the guarantor to electronically sign, but you may want a physical signature.

If they're out of state or in another country, you may need to require that the co-signer have their signature notarized and returned to you. Be prepared to turn the tenant away, too. Parents have been known to just walk out on the lease signing if they don't like the roommates, don't feel the child is responsible, or dislike the apartment.

To answer the other question, yes. The guarantor now has a rental history, and signing this lease is included in that. Therefore, if your tenant can't pay rent, you can demand it from the guarantor. It's in your best interest to ensure that the second person is close friends with the tenant or a part of their immediate family. Overall, it makes life much easier for everyone.

What Happens If the Tenant Misses Rent?

If the tenant misses a rent payment, you can ask the guarantor to remit it. However, this is likely to be late, so the credit score for each could get lower, depending on how late it is.

What Happens if the Guarantor Can't Pay Rent?

Each person's credit score is affected, and as the landlord, you can take action against them. Typically, this is in the form of a late fee. However, if you regularly charge late fees and don't see any money, you could sue or evict the lease guarantor and tenant.

If that happens, the guarantor is named in any collections and legal suits, too. Regardless, credit histories for both parties drop, and creditors can see the collections and late payments.

Can a Person Have More than One Guarantor?

In most cases, a landlord only wants to have one lease guarantor, but this might be impossible if there are multiple roommates.

Technically, a single guarantor must be able to cover full rent for the apartment. However, the legality of that is a bit fuzzy because apartment shares are highly popular. Therefore, as the landlord, you can take multiple guarantors to cover each applicant's rent.

What If the Tenant Doesn't Have a Guarantor?

Sometimes, the tenant doesn't have a family member or friend to rely on. Maybe all of their family members have bad credit or don't make enough money.

In that case, the tenant might need to use a third-party service as their co-signer. Many states now have laws in place that say the landlord cannot ask for extra security deposits or money upfront. Landlords are now restricted to asking for only one month's rent (deposit) and the first rental payment.

Conclusion

When potential tenants come to you for a rental apartment and have bad credit or none at all, you may worry about them paying rent on time. It could be best to consider a guarantor lease, where another person co-signs the lease, along with the tenant.

Overall, the guarantor must pay the rent if the tenant can't. They sign a lease, too, so they are on the hook and can be taken to court or sent to collections like the tenant. This can be highly beneficial for landlords who worry about getting their payments on time.

David Bitton

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his two children, he's writing articles here!