Many landlords or agents will ask you to provide a Guarantor. A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay the rent if for some reason the tenant cannot/does not, in most cases this would be a parent or someone similar (N.B. if you are under 18 this is almost always the case). In the most case landlords would prefer the Guarantor to be a UK resident who owns property.
WHAT IS A GUARANTOR LIABLE FOR?
If, as a tenant, you are liable to pay any debts to the landlord (i.e. unpaid rent, bills, damage costs) then the Guarantor is also liable and if you don’t pay the landlord will look to claim these costs from your Guarantor.
If you are a joint tenant, your guarantor can be pursued for any debts from any tenant in the property – just as the tenants are jointly and severally liable, so are the guarantors. This can seem unfair, especially, if you have paid your share and it is another tenant who hasn’t. The only way to avoid this would be if your guarantor signs a written agreement with the landlord confirming their liability is limited to a specified portion of the rent (or damage) but many landlords will not agree to this.
WHAT IF I CANNOT PROVIDE A UK GUARANTOR?
This is often the case for International or EU students who do not have family or relatives based in the UK. There are a couple of options that could be considered:
- Paying rent in advance - If you cannot provide a Guarantor your landlord may ask you to pay in advance (often for six months or in some cases for the full period of the tenancy). Be wary of doing this. If you have no other choice ensure you get a receipt for all money paid and keep this safe along with your tenancy agreement.
- University Guarantor Scheme – The University of Essex has partnered with the Your Guarantor scheme for International and EU students. Your Guarantor acts as a UK rent guarantor for students renting in the Private Sector with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. The scheme is open to both Undergraduate and Postgraduate students. For further details see yourguarantor.com/university-of-essex
- Commercial Organisations – companies such as ‘Housing Hand’ offer guarantor schemes for a fee. Some of these companies require a co-signer in addition to the fee so always check the criteria before signing up or paying any fees.