Home rental lease for 18 year old daughter?
August 20, 2012 4:11 AM   Subscribe

My 18 year old daughter is renting a "college rental" house with three other 18 year old females. I've just read her lease and I have a question about the portion I have to sign...

Paragraph 1 states "this lease made between (Landlord's name) and (Daughter's name) who is hereinafter refereed to as "tenant" and Parents signing for students on signature page of this lease referred to as "tenant and/or Guarantor".

The rest of the lease is a normal lease agreement for what I've seen in my past (as a renter and a landlord) but my concern is by signing this as a "tenant" myself, am I opening up to more liability than I'd like to considering there are four young adults that I'd be potentially accepting responsibility for?

This signature page requires Daughters signature on "tenant/student" line and then mine next to it under "Guarantor for lease agreement. Parent or legal guardian for student."

This is in Maryland.

Again, my main concern is the part of the first paragraph stating I'd be a "tenant" (and I may be reading too much into that!) I'm happy to guarantee that her portion of the rent is paid, but do not want to be considered a tenant of the property OR to accept liability for the four young adults of the property.

Thanks for your insight!
posted by kiwi-epitome to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
IAAL (but not your lawyer), and it is not possible to comment on a lease I haven't read. However, if the guarantor is a "normal lease agreement", you are likely to be liable for any other tenant's default. By the same token, your daughter is likely to be liable for the default of any of her roommates. It would be very hard to find a lease that doesn't work this way.

I do not like the phrase "tenant and/or Guarantor" because "and/or" is a nullity.
posted by Tanizaki at 4:29 AM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Without commenting on the legal aspects of the lease (since I know nothing about them), I'll say this: anything that you sign on to guarantee, consider as a gift. Maybe you'll get to keep the money, maybe not, but as long as you're a guarantor it isn't yours.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:45 AM on August 20, 2012

This sounds somewhat confusingly drafted, but it's impossible to know what's going on without reading the whole lease, which no one here is going to do.

Suffice it to say that when you are signing on as a guarantor for a lease, you are promising to make good each and every provision of the lease unless otherwise specified.

Whether or not you'll be liable for the tenants other than your daughter is an open question--again, what does the language say--but I'd bet not.
posted by valkyryn at 5:00 AM on August 20, 2012

Best answer: This lease is most likely drafted for maximum overlap in liability to ensure that the landlord gets paid. With that in mind, I would guess that you would be a guarantor for your daughter and all other tenants. Also, I have seen cases where parents are sued for unpaid rent of their children's housemates.

I would call the landlord and ask about who you would be responsible for. If they say you are only responsible for your daughter, have them change the lease or just handwrite something that makes that explicit, and have the LL initial it.
posted by unreasonable at 5:44 AM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

In my experience (Chicago), unless the lease specifies that you will be guaranteeing only your daughter's obligation under the lease, you are liable for everyone that's living there. This goes the same for your daughter, in that unless the lease specifies that she's only responsible for 1/4th the total monthly rent, she could be on the hook for the full about if her roommates skip out.

I agree with unreasonable that this is an easy fix with a handwritten note of clarification on the lease, after having a discussion with the landlord. It's possible that the other three girls are having their parent's sign too.
posted by youngergirl44 at 5:50 AM on August 20, 2012

Sounds a fairly standard joint lease. In most leases each tenant is liable for the whole amount not just their share. What you want is individual leases, not sure exactly how the work for the purpose of damages to a shared house but they do exist. If each tenant has their own individual lease, they are only responsible for paying their share of the rent and by extension you'll only be responsible for your daughter.
posted by missmagenta at 5:56 AM on August 20, 2012

I'd be surprised if the landlord wants a guarantee of the rent being paid but not of other liability (such as damage) being paid.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:19 AM on August 20, 2012

You should speak to the landlord about what they intend from the specifics of that lease, but as someone who's rented a house with other college students before when the landlord has the parents sign they're holding them responsible for rent AND damages. In fact, one landlord I knew allowed one parent of the group to sign for rent liability but not damage liabilities and the result was a house that at the end of the year had damages far, far in excess of the $2000 deposit. So I'm guessing they're going to want you to pay for anything your daughter and her roommates do to the house.
posted by Anonymous at 8:01 AM on August 20, 2012

I'm not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice, but when I was in a similar situation to your daughter, my dad refused sign on as a guarantor. We essentially negotiated it out of the lease. We may have provided more evidence of ability to pay, or maybe the landlord just really wanted to rent it. But leases can be negotiated and my dad certainly was not about to sign it.
posted by SpicyMustard at 9:03 AM on August 20, 2012

IANAL but I've rented under a similar lease, and my feeling here is that yours is just badly worded. I think the "tenant and/or guarantor" means "the student and/or his or her parent" in this case; i.e. any statement that refers to "tenant and/or guarantor" refers to both you and your daughter, and any statement that refers to "tenant" only refers to just your daughter. I wouldn't be surprised if that particular phrasing is being used because nothing in the lease refers to just the guarantor, but "tenant and/or guarantor" shows up frequently.

I don't think you're being considered as a tenant, but by signing on as a guarantor it means you will be held responsible if your daughter does not pay her rent, which seems to be the agreement you were planning on in the first place: that you're the one sending in the rent money. I would consult the landlord(s) as to whether they also intend you to also be responsible for your daughter's roommates, but it would surprise me if they did.

Seconding SpicyMustard's comment: everything is negotiable. If there's a phrasing you don't like, bring it up at the lease signing and you will probably be able to get it crossed out.
posted by capricorn at 9:30 AM on August 20, 2012

This lease is most likely drafted for maximum overlap in liability to ensure that the landlord gets paid. With that in mind, I would guess that you would be a guarantor for your daughter and all other tenants. Also, I have seen cases where parents are sued for unpaid rent of their children's housemates.

This, plus damages. I moved every year in college, and almost every lease was like this. In one case my roommates and our parents were sued in small claims court after we refused to pay for made up damages by a sheisty landlord.
posted by Big_B at 9:50 AM on August 20, 2012

By saying "tenant and/or guarantor" they could mean "a guarantor (parent) or the tenant themselves if they are financially sound". So a tenant who has $50,000 in the bank wouldn't have to have a parent sign, and they'd just sign themselves again on the guarantor page.

I've signed leases like this before and had my parents sign too. It was just an acknowledgement on the lease that I couldn't pay the rent, and almost all my income was coming from my parents.
posted by sbutler at 10:07 AM on August 20, 2012

When I rented with roommates in Louisiana, there was "joint and several" liability which means that each of us was responsible if another failed to pay up. My parents were not involved in the signing process at all, although since they were footing the bill the first two years I lived in an apartment, I suppose they were the ones who would have been screwed in the event of a roommate payment problem.
posted by radioamy at 12:08 PM on August 20, 2012

I'm not a lawyer, but I've rented out before. And when we had a guarantor, the intention was if the tenant didn't pay up or completely trashed the place, we would hold the guarantor responsible in court for the missing rent or damages to the building.
posted by cyml at 12:33 PM on August 20, 2012

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