It's probably helpful to first have a couple definitions about what a
"COSIGNER - A person who agrees to be liable for another person's
debt, or for the performance of another's duty, liability, or
Legal Definition of Cosigner
An cosigner on a lease is also called a "lease guarantor":
" A Guarantor is a responsible party who legally "guarantees" your
lease. Should you need financial support, your Guarantor is ultimately
responsible to meet your financial obligation."
What is a Lease Guarantor?
Unless your cosigner is also named as a tenant on the lease, the
cosigner's rights and responsibilities are purely financial.
Typically, the cosigner or guarantor is a non-resident and does not
enjoy the same rights to the apartment as the residents - for
instance, your cosigner cannot go to your rental office and demand
entrance to your apartment or give notice of intent to vacate unless
s/he is named on the lease as a *tenant*. Additionally, landlords are
not required to notify your cosigner if you are behind on your rent
(but they may demand immediate payment from your cosigner if you do
"In leasing, there are three categories of people:
Residents (tenants), occupants, and guarantors:
Residents (tenants) are financially responsible AND have the right of
possession AND all other rights of a tenant (under landlord/tenant
laws of your state);
Permitted occupants (under your community's occupant rules) have
LIMITED right of possession, but they have no financial responsibility
-- they live there at the resident's grace (& under your policies);
Guarantors have ONLY the financial obligation to perform the tenant's
financial obligations under a lease if the tenant fails to do so and
that's it -- really no rights.
If someone is truly going to be a part of the lease transaction for no
other purpose than to guarantee the financial obligation of the tenant
because there is some problem with the tenant's credit, for example,
they should be made a guarantor and should sign a guarantor agreement
(designed by your company, attorney, or state).
A guarantor should not be made a part of the lease because then they
are entitled to notices to vacate, right of possession, and all other
rights of a tenant -- you wouldn't really want to give them those
rights if all they are doing is being a source of payment if the
tenant defaults under the lease."
" As a cosigner, I authorize my credit to be checked for the purpose
of securing a rental for the tenant(s) listed above. It is understood
that the cosigner will not reside at the rented unit. If tenant(s)
fails to meet any rental obligations the cosigner will be held liable
for any rental amount owed throughout the term of the lease or any
damage caused by tenant(s)."
"Cosigner agrees to be jointly and severally liable with Tenant for
Tenant's obligations arising out of the lease or rental agreement
described in Paragraph 2, including but not limited to unpaid rent,
property damage and cleaning and repair costs that exceed Tenant's
security deposit. Cosigner further agrees that Landlord will have no
obligation to report to Cosigner should Tenant fail to abide by the
terms of the lease or rental agreement. (For example, if Tenant fails
to pay the rent on time or damages the premises, Landlord has no duty
to warn or inform Cosigner, and may demand that Cosigner pay for these
A caveat: This is general information only. Whether or not a lease
guarantor/cosigner will have right of possession or the right to serve
notice of intent to vacate (terminate the lease) depends largely on
whether the landlord requires that the guarantor sign the lease as a
If he is named guarantor only, his obligation is strictly financial.
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