Using a guarantor

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

You might need a 'guarantor' so you can rent a place to live. A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay your rent if you don't pay it, for example a parent or close relative.

If you don’t pay your landlord what you owe them, they can ask your guarantor to pay instead. If your guarantor doesn’t pay, your landlord can take them to court.

Your landlord might want to check your guarantor is able to pay the rent in the same way they've checked your ability to pay. For example, by carrying out a credit check. Your landlord should not charge you or your guarantor fees for carrying out a credit check. These fees are unlawful in Scotland.

A legal agreement sets out the guarantor's legal obligations.

You should always seek legal advice before organising or becoming a guarantor. Your bank may be able to provide you with a standard guarantor agreement.

Is a guarantor only liable for unpaid rent

It depends on what the agreement says. In many cases, a guarantee agreement extends to other conditions under the tenancy, for example, any damage caused to the property.

You should check the tenancy agreement before you act as guarantor. It's important that you know what the tenant has to actively do and not do to maintain the tenancy. This should be covered in the tenancy agreement.

Does the guarantor have to live in the UK

Landlords usually want a guarantor who lives in the UK as it's easier for them to take legal action against a UK resident if they need to.

This might be a problem for you if you're coming from abroad, for example if you're an international student. If you can't get a guarantor who lives in the UK, you might be asked to pay more rent in advance.

Guarantors of tenants who live in shared accommodation

If you share accommodation with other tenants under one tenancy agreement, that is, a joint tenancy, it's common for the guarantee to apply to all of the rent and not just your share. 

It's best to check the guarantee agreement carefully and ask the landlord or agent any questions if something is unclear. As soon as the agreement is signed, the guarantor is bound by its terms and conditions.

It's usually possible to draw up an agreement that limits the guarantor’s liability to only your rent payments or any damage caused by you. You should make sure that the guarantor agreement specifies the exact amount to be guaranteed. 

When the guarantor's liability ends 

Check any guarantee agreement carefully so that the guarantor knows how and when their liability ends.

You may want to ensure the guarantor's liability is limited. For example, this can be done by specifying the start and end dates the agreement applies to.

If you want to stop being a guarantor

As soon as the agreement is signed, you are usually bound by its terms and conditions. If you want to stop being a guarantor, you should get legal advice.

Further help

You may find some additional help on the Shelter Scotland website.

If you want to have a guarantor agreement checked by a lawyer you can find a lawyer on the the Law Society of Scotland website. You should not phone the Law Society of Scotland for legal advice as this cannot be provided over the phone.