Einir Evans, Advice & Money Team tells us more about the Guarantor Scheme for care leavers and estranged students …
Are you a care leaver or an estranged student unable to find someone to act as a guarantor to secure accommodation in the private sector? If so; Cardiff University are introducing a new Guarantor Scheme to assist you. Basically, this means that the University will act as your guarantor so you can secure somewhere to live in the private sector for next academic year.
What is a guarantor?
A guarantor is someone who is willing to guarantee to your Landlord that they will pay your rent if you fail to do so. Landlords will usually ask for an adult who lives in the UK to act as guarantors. The majority of students will usually turn to their parents to ask them to put their names on the guarantor form. Students who have been in care or estranged from their families may not have someone who’s willing to put their names down and so find it difficult to secure accommodation without a guarantor. Students in this situation have usually had to fork out and pay a larger deposit or more rent upfront at the beginning of the tenancy, sometimes as much as 6 month rent in advance.
Cardiff University Guarantor Scheme
In recognition of the difficulties faced by care leavers and estranged students, Cardiff University are introducing a Guarantor Scheme. To be eligible you must be a:
- “Home” student and be a care leaver or estranged students or have exceptional circumstances agreed on a case by case basis. AND
- fully registered and be expected to be fully registered for the period of the tenancy agreement. AND
- undergraduate or postgraduate student in the second year or subsequent year of study (during the tenancy agreement) or a 1st year postgraduate students who have just completed an undergraduate qualification at Cardiff University
The small print
As with any scheme there are a few rules and restrictions to consider. The scheme encourages you to seek tenancies with landlords or letting agencies on Cardiff University Housing List. The benefit of going with this list is that the landlords are all aware of the scheme and they don’t charge an administration/agency fee.
It will only cover unpaid rent; it won’t cover any other costs such as unpaid bills or damages. If you enter into a joint tenancy agreement, the guarantee will only cover a pre-agreed amount only, this usually means your “share” of the rent.
In addition, we will check the following:
- You have no university debts (library fines, unpaid tuition fees, outstanding emergency loans etc)
- You have a satisfactory academic record and on track to progress to the following year
- You have a satisfactory accommodation record
- You have sufficient funding to cover your rent (proof of your student finance for this academic year, or the following if you have already applied and three months bank statements).
How it works
If you want to apply to the scheme you need to make contact with me, in the Student Support Centre. You must apply to the scheme before you agree to a tenancy. It’s a good idea to get approval before you start looking for properties. I will need to see your Student Finance notification letter and three months bank statements before a decision can be made. Just to make you aware, there is a £40 administrative fee also.
Once the University agrees to be your guarantor, you will need to look for accommodation and bring the guarantor form in to me so I can get it signed, once you get your tenancy agreement. I can also check your tenancy agreement so that you are fully informed of what you’re letting yourself in for!
You then make payments for rent directly to the landlord, in line with your tenancy agreement. Where unexpected circumstances arise during the tenancy and you foresee difficulties paying your rent, you must get in contact with me, before the rent payment is due. Please be aware that if you leave the property before the end of the tenancy, without the Landlord’s permission, you are liable for the rent until the end of the tenancy agreement. Please come in and see me if you are having problems and you are thinking of leaving.
If the University is approached by your Landlord due to the guarantor agreement, we will get in contact with you. If the University is called upon to pay out under the guarantor scheme, the amount spent will be added to your student account as a debt to Cardiff University. The money must be repaid before the start of the next academic year. The debt will be subject to the university debt recovery procedure and debt policy.
What to do now?
As it is only the beginning of December, it’s too early to be looking for accommodation for next academic year. We would recommend that you wait until your January exams are over. I can reassure you that there are more houses than students in Cardiff. Letting agencies start advertising this time of year and create a panic. There is no need to panic there is more supply than demand I promise! We would also advise you to get to know your friends a bit longer before committing yourself to a legal binding contract with them. You only met them 8 weeks ago, so it will do no harm to get to know them a bit better!
Also financially, when signing a tenancy agreement you will need to pay at least 1 month rent as a deposit and at least one month rent in advance. The average rent in Cardiff is approx. £275, so you will need a minimum £550 when signing a tenancy agreement. Waiting until January will mean you will have received your next instalment of student finance and the first instalment of the Cardiff University Bursary is paid at the end of January.
If you wanted further information and advice on housing, check out the Students’ Union Advice and Representation Centre webpages
You could organise to get approval for the guarantor scheme in place before January so that you are ready to go and look for accommodation, once your exams are over.
If you require any further information about the scheme or have any questions, please get in contact with me: EvansE23@cardiff.ac.uk Tel: 029 2087 4787
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The Student Support Centre, 50 Park Place, Student High Street