It can be very disappointing to find out that you don't earn enough to qualify for the perfect apartment after days or weeks of searching. Fortunately, there are options for those individuals who do not meet the income qualifications of a certain apartment, and one of the most effective is using a co-signer.
Defining a Co-Signer
A co-signer is a third party who contractually consents to cover the rent and any damages beyond normal wear and tear if you do not pay. For many people who require co-signers, this role is filled by a parent or guardian, but it can be anyone who has good credit and willingly agrees to sign the lease. In most cases, a co-signer will not live on the property.
Advantages of a Co-Signer
The biggest advantage of having a co-signer is the most obvious -- if your income alone does not qualify you for an apartment, a responsible co-signer can help by lending strength to your application. Having a co-signer opens up your apartment-hunting options as well. For many low-income individuals, a co-signer is the only way they can get the apartment they want, not simply the apartment that they qualify for.
Disadvantages of a Co-Signer
Some landlords don't accept co-signers for their apartments, so you are not guaranteed an apartment if you have a co-signer. In addition, your co-signer is taking on a fair amount of risk by consenting to be monetarily responsible for your lease. To avoid conflict with your co-signer, pay rent on time every month and cover any property damages that you incur while you live in the apartment.
How to Use a Co-Signer
If you are set to apply for an apartment and find out that the income qualifications are higher than what you make, you can ask the landlord if he accepts co-signers on the lease. If he does, then you can secure a co-signer. Your co-signer should qualify for the income standards set by the landlord and will need to submit to a credit check. If you are granted the apartment, both you and the co-signer will need to sign the lease.
Kate Savage is a writer and editor with more than eight years experience writing and editing professionally. She holds a master's degree in writing and editing as well as a bachelor's degree in English literature. Her writing has been featured on a number of websites, including eHow, GlobalPost, and SFGate.com. She lives in Portland, Ore.