Most agents and an increasing number of private landlords will ask for a guarantor for each of their tenants before agreeing to let a property. A guarantor agreement is where a third party, who must be based in the UK, agrees to guarantee that your rent will be paid. In the event that you do not pay your rent your landlord can recover the money from your guarantor. For most students, their guarantor is one of their parents or guardians.
Many parents are reluctant to sign a guarantor agreement, fearing that they could be held responsible for the rent of their son or daughter's housemates. Unfortunately, because most guarantor agreements are worded very vaguely, this fear is often not unfounded!
For your guarantor to be assured that they are guaranteeing only your portion of the rent, the guarantor agreement should be very specific and should include the following details:
- The name of the person whose rent is being guaranteed
- The period of the tenancy
- The amount to be guaranteed
This last point is very important. As most tenancies are Joint and Several (see the section in Signing a Contract) it is not usually sufficient just to state that only a particular person's portion of the rent is being covered, because under such a tenancy if one member of the household leaves their rent liability can be transferred onto the remaining tenants. You could therefore see "your portion" increasing!
Instead, you should make sure that the guarantor agreement specifies the exact amount to be guaranteed. For example, if your rent is £280 per month for a period of 12 months, the amount to be guaranteed should stated as such, a total of £3360.
You can obtain a sample guarantor agreement from the Students' Union Advice Centre, the SASSH website, or under useful downloads on the right.