Apartment Search Renting San Francisco, CA Tips & Tricks for Renters

Worried Your Rental Application Might Not Get Approved? Get a Guarantor!

guarantor agreement

The road to renting an apartment is often paved with… plenty of obstacles. As many young people across the U.S. are just now starting to look for their first apartments, with no credit or rental history, the task of securing a lease might prove to be difficult. Other scenarios include renters that could be struggling with poor credit scores or low income and might not be able to qualify for an apartment. Given that landlords want financially stable residents that are able to pay the monthly rent on time, how can one prove that they meet all the requirements?

Thankfully, there’s a solution and it comes in the form of a rent guarantor meaning an apartment co-signer who can vouch for an applicant and be legally responsible for everything related to the apartment. Regardless if we’re talking about paying the rent or being responsible for property damages, apartment guarantors mostly act as a safety net, providing the landlord with an alternative option in case something goes wrong.

What is a guarantor?

A guarantor is by definition “a person or thing that gives or acts as a guarantee” meaning that in the case of a rent guarantor, that person agrees to step in whenever you’re not able to pay your rent. It’s important to keep in mind that signing a lease with a guarantor means that both of you agree to the apartment lease requirements and that’s why it would be best to choose someone you trust, like a family member or a close friend. It’s actually very common for parents to act as apartment guarantors for their newly-graduated kids during their first renting experience.

Despite being a co-signer, an apartment guarantor does not live in the apartment. Moreover, some landlords actually require the guarantor to be a homeowner, just as an extra precaution. With rents getting more expensive day by day, it’s not unusual for renters who are not able to afford an apartment to think about guarantor insurance. For example, San Francisco apartments are being rented out at about $3,400 per month, meaning that an applicant would need to have a monthly income of over $10,000 in order to be approved.

Why could you need a rent guarantor?

Here are the main reasons why you might need a guarantor for renting an apartment:

  • Poor or no rental history

Landlords don’t have a very broad idea of the kind of renter that you are, especially if you’re a student, a non-resident in the U.S. or someone who just started renting. Having no previous records to prove that you’re trustworthy, your only chance of getting that apartment is a lease guarantor. The same thing goes for those with a poor rental history.

  • Poor credit

Credit scores are more important than you might think, even for renting. Whether you are looking to buy your house or rent it, they are basically a golden ticket to getting your dream apartment and having a low credit score is usually a big obstacle for many people.

  • Low income

To be approved for an apartment, one of the requirements is to earn at least 2.5 times the monthly rent but this can climb to 3.5 times in the case of a luxury building or a strict landlord.

rental agreement

What are the guarantor requirements?

Not many people can act as guarantors, mainly because the main requirement is to have an income that is at least 80 times the monthly rent annually. Also, they will have to prove that by producing financial documents such as tax returns or pay stubs for the apartment. Landlords could also ask that guarantors live nearby and be in their current job for several months or even years.

However, some people are reluctant to act as guarantors and it’s easy to see why. Being financially responsible for another person’s rent is a risk, not paying the rent can negatively affect the guarantor’s credit rating.

What if you can’t find someone trustworthy to be your guarantor?

Friends and family might not be very fond of the idea of being guarantors, therefore you could find yourself asking: who can be my guarantor for renting? Well, get acquainted with apartment guarantor services such as The Guarantors, Insurent or American Cosigners. In exchange for a fee, they can help with the entire process of renting an apartment. Moreover, the fee for using their services is per lease therefore if you plan on renting with other people, you can split the cost.

In case this doesn’t appeal to you, there are options other than renting with a guarantor. One would be to avoid large apartment communities and to convince the landlord that you are a responsible renter by offering to pay in advance. Provided that you have a low income, you may also qualify for Section 8 Housing or other government subsidized programs.

Meanwhile, if you feel like browsing for that perfect apartment, take a look at available listings in your area on RENTCafé.

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About the author

Florentina Sarac

Florentina Sarac is a creative writer, editor, and researcher for RENTCafé. She covers a variety of topics, from real estate trends, demographic shifts, housing industry news and multifamily construction to homeownership, smart-home technology, personal finance and business. With a 7-year background in the real estate industry, Florentina has also penned articles for publications such as Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive and the National Apartment Association Magazine. You can connect with Florentina via email.

Florentina’s work and expertise have been featured in several major U.S. and international publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bisnow, The Mercury News, Curbed, The NY Post, CBS News, Business Insider and Realtor.com. She holds a B.A. in English and Spanish, as well as an M.A. in Multilingual and Multicultural Communication, which serve as a testament to her love of literature and language.

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