OCSS

Off-Campus Housing

Co-Signing a Lease

Recognizing the Implications of co-signing a lease:

There may be times when a tenant does not have the income required to rent an apartment. (The total yearly rent for an apartment should not exceed more than 30 percent of an individual's income.) Therefore, some landlords will require a co-signer.

The landlord may require that the renter provide a co-signer, as a precaution to ensure payment of the rent. A co-signer, to be acceptable, usually needs to meet all the qualifications that a tenant needs to meet good credit, employment record and sufficient income.

Some apartments say “No co-signer permitted,” although exceptions are sometimes made. It is often helpful if the co-signer (eg a parent or guardian) makes the initial contact with the apartment, or accompanies the renter on the tour of the apartment.

Cosigning a lease is a serious responsibility that should not be taken lightly. If a tenant cannot afford the apartment or cannot budget his/her money properly and defaults on the lease, the landlord can seek payment from the co-signer, even if the landlord must take the co-signer to court.

A co-signer is responsible for the full year of the lease and for any renewals thereafter. If the tenant has been paying his rent on time during the first year, and should his income improve enough to have the apartment on his own, then before his current lease renews, he should seek to have a non-co-signed lease for the future.

If the tenant is unwilling to do this, and the co-signer wants to be relieved of future potential liability, then the co-signer should send a written notice to the landlord, before the lease renews, that at the end of the current lease he will no longer be a co-signer.