College Students- Should each tenant have their own co-signer?

10 Replies

I recently started managing a 3 BR unit on a college campus.  I've talked with a couple of local property managers, and there seem to be differing opinions on whether or not I should proceed with one cosigner, or three cosigners (one per applicant). 

My fear is that not all college kids' parents are going to make 3X the monthly rent of a 3 BR unit, and therefore it may be difficult to find three qualified cosigners.  Additionally, I'm not even sure how I'd tackle that legally if I did try to recoup any unpaid rent from three different cosigners. 

How do you recommend I proceed (assuming none of the applicants qualify alone), with one cosigner for the unit or one cosigner per applicant?

@Wade Penner

Hey Wade,

First thing you should probably check with a legal expert for what's allowed in your state.  Secondly, its probably wise to get a co-signer for each applicant.  

Whatever you decide to do, you may want to have a documented business process for accepting, reviewing and approving applications then issuing leases that you follow so that you provide the same treatment to all - Then of course you have to stick to this process.  That way, if you are ever questioned about how you do what you do you can refer to this 'internal process' as your way of doing business.

What I see a lot in your situation is cosigners for each student and one student pays rent with auto pay .

Thanks for the replies @Josh Stack , @Billy Smith

I will proceed with requiring a co-signer per applicant.  And yes, I was planning on having one pay with auto pay.  

Just thinking ahead another step... if a cosigner doesn't meet the standards I've set forth (lack of income, subpar credit, etc.) would it make sense to move forward with two instead of three cosigners, or should I require that the student find a different cosigner?  Perhaps I'm overthinking it, but it seems like some students may struggle to find a legitimate cosigner that checks out on all levels, and I would hate to reject a group of three applicants simply because one couldn't find a cosigner.  What are your thoughts?

@wade 

@Wade Penner

That’s your call but consider what  the repercussions may be of treating tenants differently  It will probably be fine but it does potentially open you up to some liability. 

From a process and procedure perspective, does your process have an allowance for this type of accommodation to some tenants and not others?

Originally posted by @Josh Stack :

@wade 

@Wade Penner

That’s your call but consider what  the repercussions may be of treating tenants differently  It will probably be fine but it does potentially open you up to some liability. 

From a process and procedure perspective, does your process have an allowance for this type of accommodation to some tenants and not others?

Okay- this is my first unit, so I’m in the midst of refining my processes. The other two units in the triplex are 1 BR, so those will be more straight forward. 

There was a mix up in the beginning, and the previous property manager lined up three tenants, however only one co-signer. I’m now in communication with these applicants, and deciding whether or not to require two more co-signers.  Everything else checks out with them. 

Hi Wade! As Josh said, I would require a cosigner for all 3 applicants because only requiring 2 of them to have cosigners could be seen as discriminatory. I highly recommend requiring all three of them to have cosigners just as a precaution to make sure you will receive rent every month. 

Originally posted by @Katie Stewart :

Hi Wade! As Josh said, I would require a cosigner for all 3 applicants because only requiring 2 of them to have cosigners could be seen as discriminatory. I highly recommend requiring all three of them to have cosigners just as a precaution to make sure you will receive rent every month. 

 Thanks for the input as well!

Hopefully everything goes smoothly once the tenants are screened and rent is coming in.  However, in the case that I don't receive rent, how would I determine which of the three co-signers to go after?

I use an economic unit addendum, which basically states that they are jointly and severely liable for all terms of the lease.  And I will only accept rent in one single payment.  So in the event that one roommate doesn't pay, the others are equally responsible.  Same holds true for the security deposit and any damage to the property.  I don't want to be in a conversation about which roommate was dancing on the kitchen counter when it broke!