If you want to land the perfect rental apartment, you’ll need a stand-out rental application as your baseline. However, you might still be worried about a few things: maybe you don’t have a credit history or it’s your first time renting. In cases such as these, your landlord might require you to have a cosigner on your lease. We’re here to explain exactly what a cosigner is, who might act as one, and what their responsibilities are during your tenancy.

What is a Cosigner?

A cosigner is someone who doesn’t live in your apartment with you, but whose name is on your lease. Your landlord will hold your cosigner responsible if you can’t or won’t fulfill the terms of your lease. You could say that having a cosigner on your lease is a form of insurance for your landlord: If you fall through somehow, your landlord knows that your cosigner has promised to make up the slack. 

Who Needs a Cosigner?

Oftentimes, your landlord will tell you if you need a cosigner after processing your rental application. If this happens, it’s likely that you (or your roommates):

  • Don’t have a steady income at the time of your application
  • Haven’t rented before
  • Don’t have a credit history
  • Don’t make three times the rent of the apartment

However, you don’t have to wait to find out if your landlord will require a cosigner after your application. If you know that you or your roommates fall into one of the above categories, you could be proactive about the situation and ask someone to be a potential cosigner before you apply. So then comes the next question: who do you ask?

How Do You Find a Cosigner?

As a starting point, a cosigner should be an adult you know well. This could be a parent/guardian or another family member. It could also be a friend. You’ll want to ask someone who understands your financial situation and trusts you to uphold your responsibilities to your rental apartment.

The other key to consider here is that this person will be responsible if you can’t make rent or if you incur damages on your rental. This means that you should be certain to pick someone who can and will take on the financial repercussions in a worst case scenario. Not only does this include being able to make any necessary payments, but it also might mean finding someone who is okay with their credit score taking a dip. 

The person you ask will likely need to have an income equivalent to five times the rent of the apartment, at minimum.

cosigner talking to tenant

What Are a Cosigner’s Responsibilities?

A cosigner undergoes the same application process that the rest of the tenants do, and has to be approved by the landlord. After being approved, the cosigner becomes liable for any payments the tenants miss, deposits they cannot make, or damages they incur. The cosigner holds these responsibilities with regard to every tenant on the lease, regardless of which tenants they may know personally.   

What Potential Problems Could Occur with a Cosigner?

Before you enter the process of adding a cosigner to your lease, make sure that your cosigner understands that there are certain downsides to cosigning. It could limit the cosigner’s ability to borrow loans while they are on the lease. And of course, there’s also a chance that your cosigner might end up being on the hook for your rent or some other type of payment. You don’t want something like this to ruin your relationship with the person in question, or to put them in a bad financial situation. It’s worth having a serious talk with them about what that might look like, so that you’re both prepared in an emergency. This way, you can make sure that your cosigner is nothing but pleased to help you land the perfect rental.

We hope this blog post provided a little insight into how cosigning works. Good luck with your search, and happy renting! 

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