Cosign a Lease – What You Should Know


“Would you be willing to cosign a lease for me?”

When you hear this, your mind starts working extra fast.

On one hand, you are eager to help solve an issue for someone you care about, but on the other hand, you can’t stop wondering how it will affect you.

If you are reading this right now, you were probably just asked to cosign a lease for someone – is that right?

Before you give any response to this request, you need to understand what this agreement means for you, and then decide if cosigning a lease is something you can do or something that you need to politely reject. 

cosign a lease

What does cosigning a lease mean?

Cosigning a lease is definitely a big deal.

Cosigning means you guarantee that the renter will be responsible, and if he/she isn’t, you are second in line to cover the costs.

That’s right, when you cosign a lease you legally bind yourself to someone else’s agreement stating that you will be responsible to pay their rent if they don’t pay. 

If you are unable to cover the cost too, it will be counted as your default and will be reported to your credit agencies, which could adversely affect your credit score.

You will be held responsible as a lessee and you will have to face all consequences that come with that role, including the worst-case scenario – going to court. 

What you need to consider before cosigning

Your personal and financial situation

Can you afford this?

Will you be able to cover for them if the worst-case scenario happens, and are you willing to cope with the stress that comes from it?

How will it affect your own life and the relationship with this person?

The renter and his/her personal history

First of all, how responsible is this person?

Are they trustworthy?

Do they keep up with their responsibilities?

What is their rental history?

Do they always pay rent on time?

Have they had any issues with previous apartments?

You will be vouching for their character, and you need to know if you can trust them that they will keep up the agreement and not cause any issues for you. 

Personal relationships

Is it someone you barely know, or is it someone you trust?

Do you know enough about this person for you to legally vouch for them? 

Job situation

Is the person you are cosigning for employed?

Can they afford the rent comfortably?

What is their financial status?

Do they have savings to cover their rent in case they lose their job or don’t get paid?

Look at this realistically. 

Roommates

You need to know whether they have roommates or someone else moving in because when you cosign a lease you enter into a legally binding contract with their roommates or whoever else is on the lease.

If your friend is responsible, but their roommate isn’t, this means that you may have to cover their roommates’ part. 

cosign a lease

In most cases, if there is a roommate, you are probably better off not cosigning the lease.

Nevertheless, if you have to, then discuss your options with a lawyer and insist on including in the lease that you will be responsible only for your friend/family member, not their roommate. 

The details of the agreement

What are the details of the agreement, and how much would you have to cover in the worst-case scenario?

Don’t be afraid to negotiate some of the details that don’t work for you. 

cosign a lease

When does it make sense to cosign a lease?

  • When you are able and willing to cover the rent in case the renter can’t. 
  • When you know the renter well enough and you are sure that they are reliable, have a well-proven track record with money, and they are more than able to cover their rents. 
  • When you are sure this won’t influence your relationship even if the worst-case scenario happens. 
cosign a lease

If you do decide to cosign a lease for someone, remember, terms can be negotiated.

When it comes to leases or contracts in general, invest some time and effort into making sure the agreement works in your best interest as much as possible.


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