What to do if you can’t get a guarantor

You may be struggling to get a guarantor. This could be for one of many different reasons - perhaps because you don't have a relative or friend who is willing or able to act as guarantor, or you are a care leaver, or you no longer have any kind of relationship with your parents, or you are from overseas and can’t provide a UK-based guarantor. Here we provide information about possible solutions.
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Alternatives to getting a guarantor

This is one of a series of four short guides about guarantors. The other three in this series are:

Guarantors - who they are and what they do

Information for guarantors

Top tips on how to you show a landlord you will be a good tenant

There are many different reasons why someone may struggle to get a guarantor. While many students and young people are affected, we realise other people can experience this problem too. 

This short guide is for you if you can't get a guarantor. Choose the section below that best fits your situation and see what other options there may be for you to explore. 

October 2022

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If you are a student

University Guarantor schemes

If you are a student, your university or college may operate a rent guarantor scheme. Typically, if your university or college accepts your application to join their scheme, it acts as your guarantor to help you become a private renter.

The university or college will usually only accept you onto their scheme if, for example, you are not in debt to them, you have a satisfactory academic record, you have enough income to be able to pay the rent and a satisfactory reference from a previous landlord or hall of residence.

Find out if your university or college offers something similar by asking the students’ union or university or college accommodation service or searching their website.

If a guarantor scheme doesn’t already exist at your university or college or currently only covers international students you could talk to your students’ union about campaigning to set one up or extending the cover to include care leavers, students who no longer have any kind of relationship with their parents (universities and colleges often refer to these students as ‘estranged students’) and students whose parents can’t be a guarantor (perhaps because they don’t have a job or aren't home owners).

Bursaries, scholarships and other support offered by universities and colleges

If you’re a student who can’t get a guarantor, ask your university or college if they provide bursaries or scholarships or any other practical support specifically for students in your situation. For example, some universities and colleges offer bursaries to help care leavers avoid becoming homeless in the summer holidays or to help you pay a larger deposit or extra rent in advance to help you reassure your landlord that they can accept you as a tenant with confidence.

Find out if your university or college offers something similar by asking the students’ union or university or college accommodation service or searching their website.

Unite Foundation Scholarship Scheme

The Unite Foundation is a charity that provides care leavers and students who no longer have any relationship with their parents with the opportunity to apply for free accommodation for 3 years of undergraduate study at some universities. You can find more information about eligibility and the benefits and responsibilities of receiving a Unite scholarship at This is us - Unite Foundation Scholarship

More help for young people

Youth Access is the national membership organisation for young people's information, advice and counselling services. You can search for Youth Access services near you using your postcode.

See also our Help Directory for information about where to go for legal advice about housing problems.

If you are a care leaver

The responsibilities of Children’s Services to care leavers

If you have been in care, you can contact Help at Hand to find out what Children’s Services should be doing to help you and whether they can act as a guarantor for you. Help at Hand is a free advice, assistance and representation service open to all children and young people in care, leaving care, and those living away from home (for example, in a boarding school).

Coram Voice is a charity that helps young people actively participate in shaping their own lives. They can help you find out exactly what support you should be getting from Children’s Services. You can find more information at Am I a care leaver?

Propel is a service provided by Become, the charity for children in care and young care leavers, to support care leavers into higher education.

The Rees Foundation offers advice and information to care leavers. They may be able to help you get services you didn’t know you were entitled to and advocate on your behalf. They also provide small grants to help young people get out of a fix and move towards their goals. They also have an emergency fund to cover things like a food shop or travel to and from education.

See also our Help Directory for information about where to go for legal advice about housing problems.

Help for other people

Private Guarantor schemes

There are private guarantor companies (such as Housing Hand and UK Guarantor) who offer to act as guarantor for working professionals and students in return for a fee.

How private guarantor schemes work

You sign an agreement with the private guarantor company.

The private guarantor company then enters into a guarantee contract with your landlord to guarantee your rent, usually for the whole of your tenancy. This means that if you don’t or can’t pay your rent to your landlord, the private guarantor company will pay it. But, if they do pay your landlord, the private guarantor company will have the right to get their money back from you.

Private guarantor companies typically ask for a co-signer. A co-signer is someone who signs the same agreement as you. As a result, the co-signer will also be liable to repay any money the private guarantor company pays on your behalf to your landlord.

The difference between being a co-signer and a guarantor isn’t so much to do with the legal responsibilities each takes on – these are very similar. It’s to do with the fact that these private guarantor companies don’t usually credit check a co-signer, so they may accept people who would not be able to act as a guarantor.

If you’re having difficulty finding someone who meets the landlord’s requirements to be a guarantor (see Guarantors - who they are and what they do for details) then you may want to think about whether you can find someone who might be acceptable as a co-signer for a private guarantor scheme instead. For example, someone who isn’t a home owner.

You can find more information at Housing Hand and UK Guarantor. If you decide to look into this option make sure you understand the terms and conditions and, in particular, how much you will be paying in fees to the private guarantor company before you sign anything.

Other options

Paying a larger deposit or more rent in advance

You may be able to persuade your landlord to waive the need for a guarantor by offering them a larger deposit or 6 months’ rent in advance. This may give them the greater sense of security they are looking for. However, neither option is ideal and you may not have the money to make such a suggestion. While the landlord is required to keep any deposit money in a deposit protection scheme, you could still be at risk of losing all or some of your deposit money if you are a joint tenant and one or more of the other tenants doesn’t pay what they owe to the landlord. Paying a large amount of rent in advance can leave you open to fraud or problems getting the money back if the tenancy ends early for any reason.

Help from your local council or a local charity

Some councils offer rent deposit, bond and guarantee schemes. It may be worth contacting your local council to see if they can help you. They may be able to:

  • help you pay rent in advance and a deposit; or
  • offer you a guarantor service.

Be aware, though, that you may well have to pay this money back in time. See it as a loan, not a gift.

You may be able to get what is known as a discretionary housing payment (DHP). This does not have to be paid back. These are usually only available to people who already get housing benefit or universal credit and who are facing homelessness.

Local charities may be able to help you. The national charity Turn2Us has a search tool where you can search for grants local to you that you might be able to apply for.

Also, whatever your age, make sure you are claiming all the benefits you may be entitled to. Lots of people don’t realise they can get extra help so be sure to check this out. Turn2Us have a helpful benefits calculator you can use, or see if there is an advice centre near you.

If you are an older person and unable to benefit from help available to younger people or students you may find AgeUK helpful. They have lots of online advice for older people and a helpline.

Legal expenses and rent guarantee insurance

There are insurance companies that offer rent guarantee and legal expense insurance to landlords.

If your landlord has this insurance they will be protected if you don’t pay your rent. You could offer to pay the premium for this type of insurance in return for your landlord waiving their requirement for a guarantor. Be sure to find out how much it is first! Be aware though that it is probably a condition of any rent guarantee insurance that you, as the prospective tenant, are reference checked. The company providing the insurance may insist on you having a guarantor, irrespective of what the landlord thinks. But it may be worth investigating this possibility.

You should get some advice about the best suggestion to make to a landlord in your situation. For information about where to go for more help and legal advice, see our Help Directory.

Alternatives to renting privately

You could consider renting from a resident landlord – so typically you would share living room, bathroom and kitchen accommodation with them but have your own bedroom. Although this will restrict your legal rights, (if you rent from a resident landlord that you share some accommodation with, they do not have to go to court to evict you) the upside is that resident landlords are often more flexible and typically don’t require a UK-based guarantor. It’s not easy finding a resident landlord but you could try asking around among your friends and family to see if they know of anyone.

If you’re a student, have you thought of seeing if your university or college can offer you a 52-week accommodation option? Some institutions offer this to care leavers already. If you’re not a care leaver, but instead are estranged from your parents or have parents who can’t act as a guarantor, there’s no harm in asking if you could benefit from this option as well.

More help for people estranged from their family

Stand Alone is charity that works to support people who no longer have any kind of relationship with their parents, children or members of their wider family, whether they have been cut off or walked away.

See also our Help Directory for information about where to go for legal advice about housing problems.

More help for international students

If you are currently a student in the UK your university, college or students’ union may have an International Student Advisor based in the International Office, Student Services or Advice Centre.

If you are not yet in the UK you could contact your local British Council office or the International Office at the university or college you want to apply to.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs provides advice to international students. They run a telephone helpline but have lots of information on their website, so look there first and only call the helpline if you can’t find what you are looking for on their website.

They run a very busy advice line, open from Monday to Friday, 1300 - 1600 hours (UK time). You may not get through when you first call but keep trying.

Outside the UK: +44 20 7788 9214

Inside the UK: 020 7788 9214

Standard national/international call charges apply.

About this guide


The information in this guide applies to England.

The law is complicated. We have simplified things in this guide. Please don’t rely on this guide as a complete statement of the law. We recommend you try and get advice from the sources we have suggested.

The cases we refer to are not always real but show a typical situation. We have included them to help you think about how to deal with your own situation.


October 2022
This update was funded thanks to the Help Accessing Legal Support (HALS) grant.

March 2018

This guide was written and produced by Law for Life thanks to funding from TDS Charitable Foundation.

We would like to thank all those who provided feedback on this guide. In particular we would like to thank Allen and Overy for their support.

1 Reviews

No suggestions for family with low income


This os a great guide but sadly it was unable to help me because I am able to afford rent for properties but because of my family having low income they cannot be a guarantor. This means I cannot get a rental property as they want a guarantor with a salary 3x the rent, even though I make that amount of money. I find needing a guarantor in these situations a bit stupid.

Thank you

on the 17 / 10 / 2023

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