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How do you apply for an apartment with a cosigner?
Applying for a new apartment can seem like a lot of effort, especially when you’ve learned you need a cosigner to act as an apartment lease guarantor. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, disappointed, or insert-another-uncertain-feeling-here because you don’t know how to go about finding and applying with a cosigner, don’t worry. We can help.
Applying for an apartment with a lease guarantor is a pretty common way to strengthen your application. Here are some tips on applying for an apartment with a cosigner.
How to find a guarantor for your apartment lease
The first step to applying for an apartment with a cosigner is, of course, to find one. The most common cosigners will be parents, close relatives, or good friends. You may have better luck getting someone to act as a lease guarantor if you have a long history with them, one where you’ve navigated some challenges together, had difficult conversations, and come out stronger on the other side. It’s all about trust.
Some things to consider before asking someone to cosign for you:
- Are they in a financially stable situation?
- Do they have good credit?
- How well do you know this person?
- Would asking this person to cosign for you put a strain on your relationship?
<Roost tip> Interpersonal relationships 101: Never assume that someone is doing financially well just because of outward appearances. If someone tells you they aren’t in a position to take on this type of risk, take them at their word and thank them for their honesty. 🙂
Apartment lease guarantor services
If you’re unsuccessful in finding a person to act as your cosigner, check out lease guarantor services. Lease guarantor services are provided by third-party companies, which can help eliminate any relationship tension and risk for your family or friends.
Although lease guarantor services will cost money, sometimes quite a bit, they could be a great alternative to recruiting an unwilling or unsure cosigner.
Read our article on lease guarantor companies to learn more.
How to build trust with your guarantor, so they say yes
Once you’ve found your cosigner, it’s time to help them understand and become comfortable with what you are asking of them. With any important relationship worth keeping in your life, if you’re asking someone to take a huge risk for you, you may need to prove to them that they won’t regret it later.
Here are some tips to help make asking someone to cosign for you an easy—and hopefully successful!—conversation.
1. Explain your financial situation
If you’re asking someone to act as your apartment lease guarantor and put their financial well-being on the line, you need to be prepared to be open and honest with them about your financial situation.
- Tell your potential cosigner where you work, how long you’ve worked there, and how much money you make.
- If you have a spotty work history explain to them why and how that is going to change moving forward.
- If you have a seasonal job or concerns about being laid off, let them know your backup plan. Do you have a side hustle? Are you looking for more steady employment?
- Be honest about what other bills and expenses you have to cover each month.
- Let them know how much, if any, savings you have in the bank.
- Tell them what your credit score is, and if it’s not great, explain why and what you’re doing to fix that.
- If you’ve ever been evicted or had a bankruptcy, fully disclose the circumstances surrounding that and how things have changed since then.
In short, what most cosigners want to see is that you’re making a genuine effort to improve your situation so you can qualify on your own in the future. If someone sees a pattern of poor choices or feels you’re not being candid with them, they probably won’t be too excited to cosign for you.
2. Don’t just vouch for your roommate
Roommates are awesome for cutting down on expenses. But sometimes, a landlord may still require a cosigner. (For example: If neither of you has any renting history.)
A cosigner will end up being responsible for both you and a roommate that doesn’t pay their rent or other expenses.
So everything you just laid out regarding your financial situation for your cosigner should be done for the roommate as well. If the potential roommate doesn’t agree or understand why this needs to happen, you may want to reconsider whether that person is good roommate material.
3. Talk about how cosigning might affect your relationship
Be open and honest about how cosigning could affect your relationship.
- Does what you’re asking of them make them feel uncomfortable?
- What will happen if you can’t pay your rent? How might that affect your relationship?
- Is the risk worth potentially damaging your relationship?
Sometimes simply asking someone to take on this risk can sometimes cause tension. Try approaching the conversation by first stating that you don’t want them to feel guilty or obligated to say yes to what you are about to ask them to consider.
Make sure they understand that your relationship is more important than them agreeing to cosign as a lease guarantor. Be prepared to answer questions about why you’ve been asked to have a cosigner and to provide details about your financial information listed above.
They will probably have questions about the risk to themselves. (You can refer them to our article about, What it means to be a cosigner, for more information.) Encourage them to contact the landlord for any questions that you cannot answer.
Ultimately, transparency is key and will help you show your friend or family member that you understand the seriousness of what you are asking and are not trying to hide anything.
4. Offer to sign a separate agreement with your guarantor
Finally, consider signing a separate lease guarantor agreement with your cosigner. It should outline the terms and demonstrate that you are serious about honoring your financial commitments.
Such an agreement should contain language stating that if your cosigner has to step in to pay your rent, fees or bills stated in your lease, that you will pay the cosigner back within a specified time period. Consider if some type of additional payment—a fair fee for example—would also make sense to include.
Make duplicate copies and have all copies of the agreement notarized, so you both have the same document. This type of lease guarantor agreement will show your cosigner that you aren’t planning on leaving them holding the bag if the worst happens and you cannot pay your rent.
How to improve your rental application, so you don’t need a guarantor
Poor credit, no rental history, past evictions are some of the most common reasons that landlords request a cosigner. Here are some tips to improve your qualifications so you don’t need a cosigner at all!
1. Get a roommate
One of the most common reasons that property managers may ask for a cosigner is that your income simply doesn’t satisfy the requirements of the property you are applying for, or perhaps you have no prior rental history.
Choosing a financially responsible roommate who has a prior renting history could solve one or both of these problems and eliminate the need for a cosigner.
2. Get a side hustle to add to your monthly income
The standard income to rent ratio is more than 30%. That means your income should be equal to or more than 30% of your rent. So if your rent is $1500 a month, you need to be making at least $5000 a month. (This assumes you have no other debt, by the way.)
Check out our handy How much rent can you afford calculator to see if what you are currently making will cover the apartment you want.
If you need to supplement your income to afford the apartment you want, it will still take three to four months to prove that this is a steady, reliable income. So if increasing your income is your strategy to avoid needing a cosigner, then it’s important to plan ahead before applying for the apartment you want.
3. Improve your credit score
Increasing your credit score is another great way to avoid needing a cosigner. It is also another strategy that will take some time and effort on your part and could take anywhere from a few months to over a year before you see real results.
If you’re looking to get into an apartment tomorrow, this won’t be your immediate answer to avoid needing a lease guarantor, but it will be the answer for the next apartment. And even better, building that credit score is going to open a lot of other doors for you, such as being approved for home mortgage loans or saving money on things like car insurance.
There’re a lot of great reasons to work on your credit score.
4. Being self-employed
Being self-employed is fantastic, and if that’s you, hoorah! Great job! Unfortunately, when applying for loans or apartments, being self-employed tends to be viewed as less stable and reliable than being employed by a company with a good ol’ W-2.
If you’re self-employed, be prepared to present two to three years of tax returns and a year’s worth of bank statements to show that your business is solid and your income is reliable.
Final bits on using a lease guarantor
You may need to put some elbow grease into getting a cosigner for that dream apartment, but it’ll be worth it. Whether you decide to ask a friend or parent to cosign, use a lease guarantor company, or wait until you can build up your credit score or income, these are all positive steps that will put you on the road to being independent in no time!
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