What Is A Guarantor On A Lease?

A guarantor could help get your rental application to the top of the list.

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what is a guarantor on a lease

A guarantor on a lease is someone who legally agrees to take on the financial obligations of the lease—like paying rent—if the tenant cannot.

Let’s demystify the role of a guarantor and how they can be your ace in the hole for securing your dream apartment.


  • A guarantor on a lease acts as a financial safety net for renters, stepping in to cover costs if the tenant can’t pay.
  • Guarantors are often required for renters with poor or no credit history, low income, or in highly competitive rental markets.
  • Unlike co-signers, guarantors typically only step in to pay rent if the tenant defaults, rather than being equally liable from the start.

Here’s what we’ll discuss:

What is a guarantor?

A guarantor on a lease is someone who agrees to be responsible for the rent payments and any financial obligations under the lease agreement if the tenant fails to meet them. 

This role is particularly crucial for those with less-than-ideal credit scores or rental history, acting as a form of financial insurance for landlords and property managers.

Picture this: You’re fresh out of college, landing your dream job in a bustling city. Despite your steady income, the competitive rental market and your lack of rental history make finding an apartment challenging. But by getting a close family member—like a parent—to be your guarantor, it could help put your rental application at the top of the list.

Guarantor vs. co-signer

Guarantors and co-signers both play important roles in ensuring a lease is financially secure, but their responsibilities and involvement differ in some ways. 

A co-signer is equally responsible for the lease right from the start, meaning they share the financial duties and have the same rights as the tenant. This includes paying rent on time and adhering to the lease terms. 

On the other hand, a guarantor’s role is more of a safety net. They only need to step in if the tenant can’t fulfill their financial obligations—like missing a monthly rent payment—but extends to covering for damages. 

Who can be my guarantor?

A guarantor should have a strong credit history and financial stability, and needs to be willing to undergo a credit check

Typically, a guarantor should have a strong credit history and financial stability, and need to be willing to undergo a credit check and demonstrate the ability to cover the lease obligations if necessary. Guarantors are usually required to be over 21 years old and have an annual salary that’s 80 times the monthly rent of the apartment.

Here are some potential people that could make for a good lease guarantor:

  • Family member: A parent, sibling, or other relative who trusts you and is willing to take on the financial responsibility if needed.
  • Close friend: Someone that you have a strong, trustworthy relationship with and who understands the commitment involved.
  • Employer: In some cases, employers may agree to be guarantors, especially if relocating you is essential for the job.
  • Guarantor service: Professional services—like Insurent and Leap—that act as a guarantor for a fee, can be useful if you don’t have personal connections who can fulfill the role.
  • Mentor or advisor: An individual in a professional or personal advisory role who believes in your reliability and is financially capable.
  • Property managers or real estate agents: In rare cases, individuals in the real estate industry might agree to be a guarantor, especially if they have a longstanding relationship with you.

What are the main responsibilities of a guarantor?

Here’s a breakdown of the key legal responsibilities associated with being a guarantor:

  • Pay the rent if the primary tenant fails to do so, which can kick in as soon as the tenant misses a payment​ 
  • Potentially cover the cost of damages to the property caused by the tenant, if the tenant cannot pay for these damages themselves​
  • A guarantor’s obligations typically last for the entire length of the rental agreement, unless otherwise specified​ 
  • Usually needs to sign the lease agreement, making it a legally binding commitment​ 

Keep in mind: Being a guarantor doesn’t directly impact one’s credit score, but if a guarantor fails to fulfill their obligations, it could have a negative impact on their credit score, or even lead to legal action being taken. 

Tips for finding a guarantor

Make sure your potential guarantor knows what the obligations entail, including the potential financial responsibilities

Finding a guarantor, especially for a lease, can seem daunting, but with the right approach, you can make the process smoother and more successful. Here are a few practical tips:

  1. Start by considering close connections—like family members or good friends—who understand your character and financial reliability, and would be most willing to help
  2. Make sure your potential guarantor knows what the obligations entail, including the potential financial responsibilities
  3. In case your potential guarantor is concerned about taking you on, prepare documents such as your budget, proof of income, or a record of savings to show that you’re financially responsible and will be able to make rent payments on time
  4. If you can’t find a personal guarantor, consider a professional guarantor service that can act as your guarantor for a fee
  5. Offer to sign a personal agreement with your guarantor, detailing the circumstances under which they might need to step in and how you plan to handle any potential financial challenges
  6. Talk about the future and how you plan to strengthen your financial position to eventually remove the need for a guarantor—like plans for increasing your income, improving your credit score, or saving a larger emergency fund

Remember, choosing to be a guarantor is a crucial decision, so approach the conversation with sensitivity and respect for the other person’s financial security and peace of mind.

When do I need a guarantor?

You might need a guarantor in various situations when renting an apartment, especially if you’re facing challenges that make it difficult to meet the landlord’s leasing requirements on your own. Here are some circumstances where a guarantor can be necessary:

  • Insufficient income, which is typically if your monthly income is less than 2.5 to 3 times the monthly rent
  • Weak credit history or credit score
  • Lack of rental history—i.e. first-time renters
  • Full-time students, especially those without a steady income and can’t prove financial independence
  • Self-employed and can’t provide the typical proof of income through traditional pay stubs
  • Recently started a new job and can’t provide enough pay stubs or a long employment history
  • Recovering from bankruptcy, foreclosure, or significant debt 
  • High-demand rental markets—like Milwaukee, Chicago, and North Jersey—where landlords have their choice of applicants
  • International residents or those without a U.S. credit history

Having a guarantor ready in these scenarios could significantly increase your chances of securing a lease, offering peace of mind to both you and your potential landlord.

Before we go…

If you’re a new renter or still getting on your feet financially, a guarantor can be a valuable lifeline. Just make sure to do your research and familiarize yourself with everything about the process before taking the plunge.

And, once you’ve finished the paperwork, don’t forget to sign up for renters insurance. Finding and getting approved for an apartment can feel like a marathon, but you can get a renters insurance quote from Lemonade in seconds.

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What qualifications should a guarantor meet?

A guarantor should have a good credit score, stable income, and be willing to assume financial responsibility if the tenant cannot fulfill their lease obligations.

Can anyone be a guarantor?

While most guarantors are family members or close friends, anyone who meets the landlord or property management’s criteria and agrees to the responsibilities can serve as a guarantor.

Is a guarantor always required?

Not always. The need for a guarantor depends on the tenant’s financial situation and the landlord’s requirements.

How long is a guarantor responsible for the lease?

A guarantor is responsible for the duration of the lease term or until the tenant meets the lease conditions independently.

Can a guarantor withdraw from the agreement?

Withdrawing is challenging and usually requires the landlord’s agreement and potentially finding a replacement guarantor.

A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage and discounts may not be available in all states.


Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.