Looking for a new place to live can be stressful, especially if you've gone to a number of locations and haven't found a place that's right for you. What's worse is when you finally find that perfect apartment, only to fill out the lease application and learn that you've been rejected because you don't meet the company's renter requirements. In these situations, many apartment complexes will accept co-signers on lease agreements.
What to Do
It's common for apartment complexes to accept a co-signer on your rental application if you don't qualify on your own. A co-signer is someone who doesn't live in the apartment but takes financial responsibility for the lease if you are unable to pay your monthly rent. Sometimes the apartment complex will reject your application without telling you why or without explaining that you need a co-signer. If you're rejected without an explanation, contact the leasing office and ask why you were turned down. Offer to have a person who does meet the qualifications co-sign the application with you. Keep in mind that not all complexes accept co-signers, and some are very picky about the process. For example, some complexes will only let renters who are college students use a co-signer to qualify. If your complex doesn't accept co-signers, you'll have to move on and look for a place that does.
Reasons for Rejection
There are a number of reasons a landlord might reject your rental application, causing you to need a co-signer. Some apartment complexes determine who can qualify for a rental based on credit scores. If you have a bankruptcy in your past and a lower credit score as a result, you might have a tough time qualifying for a lease. Other factors include your income, employment record and bill payment history. If you missed a lot of utility payments at previous residences, or defaulted on a loan, some landlords will reject your lease application.
Who can Be a Co-Signer
A person who makes a large enough income or has a good enough credit history to qualify for a lease can serve as a co-signer for your rental application. Some landlords have stricter requirements for co-signers than they do for initial applicants. Renters frequently choose parents, other family members or close friends as co-signers. If you can't find a co-signer, or are uncomfortable making the request, there are a number of businesses now that offer to serve as rental co-signers in exchange for a fee. You'll have to meet their minimum rental and income requirements, but these are typically much less than a landlord's requirements. To use the services, you must pay a processing and sign-up fee, a fee for a background check, and a monthly fee that is typically 6 percent to10 percent of your monthly rent.
Before letting a friend or family member sign on as a co-signer, make sure he fully understands all the legal responsibilities of his decision. He'll need to provide a lot of personal information to the landlord, including employment details and bank statements. He might also have to submit to a background check. If you can't pay the rent, he'll be responsible for paying it and his credit score might suffer if he doesn't. If the landlord sues you for a missed payment, he can sue your co-signer as well and seek payments from your co-signer through a collections agency. These actions will show up on your co-signer's credit report.
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.