A guarantor is anyone from outside the tenancy who signs a guarantor form. By doing so, they are underwriting the cost of your tenancy, so if you do not pay your rent or utility bills, the landlord can contact your guarantor for payment. If you are in an individual contract then your guarantor will only have liability for your contract. If you have signed a joint contract, if Joint and Several Liability applies, a guarantor can potentially find themselves liable for the rent and bills of other tenants.
If you are not happy with the guarantor form that has been given to you by the landlord or agent, you could download an alternative guarantor form from the London Student Housing Guide website which limits the liability of the guarantor to covering a share of the rent, and ask if your landlord/agent would accept that instead.
Landlords ask for guarantors for the simple reason that the majority of students do not have a full-time income to support themselves, and pay for rent. By having a guarantor it secures their position. A guarantor should only be approached by a landlord in the event the student for whom they are guarantor is unable to pay for their liabilities.
Ordinarily students ask their parents or guardians to act as guarantors for their tenancy. However, a guarantor does not have to be a parent or guardian, and could be another member of their family or a personal friend.
Royal Holloway, University of London is unable to act as a guarantor for any student.
Often, landlord will require that the guarantor is UK-based, as it is easier to pursue debt recovery when the guarantor is based within the same country. However, some landlords will waive their request for a guarantor if a portion of the rent is paid in advance. If you do not have a UK-based rent guarantor, and cannot afford the requested rent in advance, we would recommned that you seek an alternative property to rent. Particularly on HouseSearch, not all landlords require a UK-based rent guarantor.