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Category — Market Participants
By Konstantin Vasilev Member of the Board of Directors of Cbonds, Ph.D. in Economics
Updated April 18, 2023

What Is a Guarantor?

A guarantor is a person or entity who agrees to pay off a borrower’s debt if the borrower defaults on their loan. The guarantor is typically required by the lender as a condition for approving a loan, and the guarantor’s assets or credit may be used to secure the loan. This provides the lender with an additional level of protection against the risk of borrower default. Guarantors are often used in situations where the borrower has a poor credit history or where the lender is uncertain about the borrower’s ability to repay the loan. The guarantor is responsible for making payments on the loan if the borrower cannot, and failure to do so can result in legal action being taken against the guarantor.

Key Takeaways

  • A guarantor is a person who assures to repay a borrower’s debt if the borrower fails to fulfill their loan obligation.

  • To secure the loan, the guarantor pledges their assets as collateral.

  • In a different context, a guarantor can also refer to an individual who confirms the identity of someone applying for a job or passport.

  • Unlike a co-signer, a guarantor does not have any ownership rights over the purchased asset.

  • If the borrower fails to repay the loan, the guarantor becomes responsible for the remaining debt and must repay it; otherwise, they may face legal action


Understanding guarantors

Guarantors are often required in situations where a person is renting an apartment or borrowing money. If the renter or borrower does not meet the credit or rental history requirements set by the landlord or creditor, they may need to apply with a guarantor. The guarantor assumes the responsibility of paying the rent or loan balance if the tenant or borrower fails to do so. Since the guarantor signs a contract, they are legally liable for the money owed and can be pursued by the creditor.

For example, suppose Susie, a recent high school graduate, is moving out for the first time and has no credit history or rental references. Although she has a steady job, the landlord is uncertain whether she will be able to pay the rent on time. To avoid denying her application, the landlord might allow Susie to sign the lease with a guarantor who will pay the rent if she is unable to. Susie’s parents, who trust her to be responsible, agree to act as her guarantor, knowing that they will be responsible for paying the rent if Susie cannot.

Types of Guarantors

There are different types of guarantors, including:

  1. Individual guarantor. This is the most common type of guarantor and usually involves a family member or friend of the borrower who agrees to guarantee the loan.

  2. Corporate guarantor. A corporation or business entity can also act as a guarantor, providing assurance to the lender that the borrower will repay the loan.

  3. Government guarantor. In some cases, the government may act as a guarantor for loans made to individuals or businesses, particularly for certain types of loans such as those for small businesses or home purchases.

  4. Self-guarantor. Some lenders may allow the borrower to self-guarantee the loan by pledging their own assets as collateral.

  5. Joint guarantor. This type of guarantor involves two or more individuals who agree to guarantee the loan jointly, sharing the risk and responsibility equally.

There are various situations that may call for a guarantor, from assisting people with low credit scores to those with insufficient income. Additionally, guarantors may not always be held liable for the full amount of the obligation. The following are examples of different scenarios that may necessitate a guarantor, as well as the type of guarantor needed for each case.

Guarantors as Verifiers

Aside from pledging assets as collateral for loans, guarantors may also assist individuals in obtaining employment or securing passport documents. In these instances, guarantors confirm their personal acquaintance with the applicants and verify their identities by validating their photo IDs.

Limited vs. Unlimited

Depending on the terms of the loan agreement, guarantors may be classified as limited or unlimited in terms of the timetable and degree of financial involvement. For instance, a limited guarantor may be asked to guarantee the loan only up to a specific point in time, after which the borrower becomes solely responsible for the remaining payments and bears the consequences of defaulting.

A limited guarantor may also only be accountable for a specific percentage of the loan, referred to as a penal sum. This is distinct from unlimited guarantors who are accountable for the entire loan amount throughout the entire term of the contract.

Other Situations

Requiring Guarantors Guarantors are not only needed by borrowers with poor credit histories. For example, landlords may require lease guarantors for first-time renters. This frequently occurs with college students whose parents serve as guarantors in the event the tenant is unable to pay the rent or breaks the lease early.

Guarantors vs. Co-signers

Guarantors and co-signers are both used in lending and leasing scenarios to provide assurance to the lender or lessor that the borrower or lessee will fulfill their obligations. However, there are some differences between the two:

  1. Responsibility. A guarantor is typically responsible for the debt or obligation of the borrower or lessee only after they have defaulted or failed to fulfill their obligations. On the other hand, a co-signer is equally responsible for the debt or obligation from the beginning of the agreement.

  2. Legal Rights. A guarantor has no legal rights to the asset or property that the borrower or lessee is obtaining, whereas a co-signer typically has some legal rights to the asset or property.

  3. Creditworthiness. A guarantor is usually used when the borrower or lessee has poor credit or a weak financial history, whereas a co-signer is often used when the borrower or lessee has no credit history or income to support the loan or lease.

  4. Obligation Limits. A guarantor may have a limited obligation, meaning they are only responsible for a portion of the debt or obligation, while a co-signer is responsible for the entire debt or obligation.

It’s important to carefully consider the differences between guarantors and co-signers before agreeing to either role, as it can have significant financial and legal implications.

Pros and Cons of Guarantors

Pros of having a guarantor

  1. Increases the chances of getting approved for a loan or lease: Having a guarantor can help those with poor credit or no credit history get approved for a loan or lease they might not otherwise qualify for.

  2. Better loan or lease terms: With a guarantor, the borrower may be able to secure a better interest rate or more favorable lease terms than they would on their own.

  3. Builds credit: Consistently paying off a loan or lease that has a guarantor can help the borrower build their credit history and improve their credit score.

  4. Can be helpful in emergencies: In certain situations, having a guarantor can provide quick access to funds when needed.

Cons of having a guarantor

  1. Risk for the guarantor: The guarantor is taking on financial responsibility for the loan or lease if the borrower cannot make payments. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the guarantor’s credit score and financial stability could be negatively affected.

  2. Personal relationships can be strained: If the guarantor and borrower have a personal relationship, such as family or friends, the financial obligation could potentially strain the relationship.

  3. Additional paperwork and requirements: Having a guarantor may require additional paperwork and documentation, which can be time-consuming and complicated.

  4. Not always available: Not everyone has a willing and qualified guarantor who is willing to take on the financial risk.

The Bottom Line

A guarantor is an individual who agrees to pay off a borrower’s debt if the borrower defaults on their obligation. While not a primary party to the agreement, a guarantor provides additional comfort for a lender. Typically, a guarantor must have a strong credit score and sufficient income to meet the obligation.

Having a guarantor can greatly benefit a borrower by making it easier and faster to get an agreement approved, often for a higher amount. However, if the borrower defaults, the guarantor must meet the obligation. Failure to do so may result in legal action and a negative impact on their credit score.


  • How to Qualify as a Guarantor?

  • Can a family member be a guarantor?

  • What does a guarantor’s signature mean?

  • What Happens If a Guarantor Cannot Pay?

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