Co-Applicant, Co-Signer, Guarantor: What Are the Differences?

Many previously unknown terms come up when you’re applying for an apartment for your first time, and learning how to properly navigate the lingo is an important step to making sure you’re getting into a lease you’re happy with. Three common terms are co-applicant, co-signer, and guarantor, which all describe someone who’s on your lease with you and assumes some financial responsibility for the apartment. Read on below to find out the differences among them.

Why would you have someone else on your lease?

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to be the only one on your lease if you’re living alone. This means you’ll be the only one with the power to end your lease or change anything about it, and you don’t have to worry about whether or not someone else pays their part of the bill.

If you’re living with a roommate, though, it can often be better to have them on your lease. This means that you aren’t the only party financially responsible for taking care of the rent, and it may give you some legal recourse if your roommate doesn’t hold up their part of the agreement.

Another situation in which you’d want to have someone else on your lease is if your credit isn’t good enough to be approved for the lease on your own.


A co-applicant on your lease is someone who joins the rental agreement to live with you at your apartment. This could be a roommate or significant other, anyone who you want to be listed on the lease, or anyone else who plans to share the apartment with you.


A co-signer on the lease is someone who may not be living in the apartment with you but is still accepting responsibility to pay for a portion of the rent. This might be a parent or someone else who is helping you pay the rent.


A guarantor is different from a co-applicant or a co-signer in that they have no financial responsibility to contribute to the cost of the apartment unless you fail to pay your rent. The primary role of a guarantor is to act as a backup to show the owner of the apartment that you’re trustworthy and low-risk.

Which one is relevant for you?

As you can see, the roles of a co-applicant, co-signer, and guarantor are very different, so it’s important to choose the right one when entering into a new lease. Having another person on your lease can make an impact on their credit and your financial situation, so this is an important decision.

The only time you’ll want a co-applicant on your lease is if you have someone who’s planning to live with you and share equal financial responsibility for paying the rent. If you have a temporary tenant like a friend who won’t be staying in your apartment long-term, it may be better to forego adding them to the lease whatsoever. A co-signer or guarantor will both be an appropriate role for a parent or another relative who’s willing to back you up and let you use their credit.

Related Posts

Author My First Apartment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments (1)