George recently finished his A-levels and has received a place at the University of the West of England through clearing. However he was too late to apply for accommodation through the University. Considering that it was too far for him to commute everyday from Exeter, George found a student property where he would be living with six other students. Unfortunately George did not know any of these people.
Before George was able to move into the property he had to sign a tenancy agreement, this agreement required him to have a third party to act as a guarantor. George’s father, Steven agreed to be a guarantor. Three weeks after moving into the property one of George’s housemates, Freddie, while attempting to cook after a night on the town fell asleep in the kitchen allowing it to catch alight. There was extensive damage to the kitchen and required repairs totaling £8,500.
Steven as a guarantor, may be potentially liable for the actions of Freddie although George has only known him for three weeks. After the landlord's insurance company repaired the property they may be seeking to recover their losses. Through this process, as a guarantor Steven is contractually bound to provide whatever the guarentee was that he provided, for any damage to the property whether or not George was responsible. Did Georges dad even read the guarenmtee document before signing?
What is a guarantor?
A guarantor is someone who accepts liability on behalf of the tenant for things such as a failure to pay rent or damage to the property during the course of the tenancy.
By signing to become a guarantor the person is entering into a legally binding contract that will make them liable for the potential actions of the tenant, and any other co-tenants at the property depending on the tenancy agreement. (The guarantor is liable for whatever they signed up to).
Shared accommodation will commonly be in the form of a joint tenancy agreement. Under a joint tenancy, each guarantor will normally provide a warranty and be responsible for the actions of all the tenants. It does not matter whether the tenant they are liable for was responsible for any damage or failure to pay the rent.
Potentially a guarantor can be liable for their tenant’s roommates that they have only known for three weeks.
It is common practice for a landlord to request for a guarantor within the UK. This is usually down to the difficult nature of starting court proceedings for someone outside of the UK.
Guarantors are normally close family members or friends that are able to provide a financial warranty. However if it is not possible to find a guarantor within the UK it is reasonable to expect to pay an inflated amount of rent in advance.
Top tips before finding a guarantor.
Before signing a tenancy agreement it is extremely important to carefully read the terms of the contract, especially those related to a guarantor.
If possible attempt to avoid using a guarantor.
Commonly a term of a guarantor contract will be unlimited or a high level of liability, this is highly undesirable and it may be worthwhile to pay a higher deposit to avoid the use of a guarantor.
Attempt to limit the liability of the guarantor to a reasonable amount.
It is good practice to try to limit the amount of money that your guarantor is liable for.
Single liability. Try to arrange it so that your guarantor is only liable for your actions and not those of your future roommates.
Written by Jordon Dowe who is a law undergraduate at the University of the West of England