co sign

By: Mark A. Mayer

PARENTS BEWARE: High School and College Graduates may be entering into their first rental lease in the near future. With rental rates up, and little credit history, landlords will look to parents to co-sign or guarantee the lease.

Life and college experience often include living with friends to share costs, to have ready-made social situations, and learn how to live with others in a small, shared space. However, there are many circumstances that can lead to an unforeseen split of roommates: transfer to another school, get a new job, going home, etc.

Things to Consider Before Co-Signing

Landlords will likely want one single lease for all residents of the rental. This does not have to be the situation. Before you co-sign any lease, make sure to check the following, among other things:

  1. Will the landlord sign a lease with your child only, and for only your child’s portion of the Lease?
  2. Negotiate terms of the lease to limit your liability to only your child’s portion of the rent.
  3. Avoid terms that hold you responsible for damage to the rental property, these are college kids and young adults.
  4. Try to negotiate the term of the Lease that your child needs. Two college terms often cover 9 or 10 months, but landlords will often require at least 12 months.
  5. Make sure you are aware of the other residents’ lease obligations and if they have cosigners.

If you co-sign, include your graduate in the process of reviewing and negotiating the lease, no time like the present to learn about leases and contract provisions. You can also consider contracting with your child for their obligations. For example, if they breach the lease and cause you to incur liability, the student agrees to repay you over a predetermined period. If they drop out of school, they agree to get a job to pay the rent. This will help them understand contractual obligations and responsibilities to others. 

Parents and grads, congratulations on taking the next step in their journey to Adulthood, and good luck.

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Mark Mayer is an attorney at Hammerle Finley Law Firm and has experience in a wide variety of legal and business matters.