Have you been asked to provide a cosigner before renting an apartment in Chicago? Don’t take it personally. Many landlords in Chicago require a cosigner for applicants who don’t meet certain strict requirements in order to guarantee the lease.

The purpose of a cosigner is quite straightforward; in order to protect themselves financially, the landlord will ask the tenant to cosign the lease with a third party who can demonstrate a stronger financial background. In the event that the tenant is unable to pay the rent, this cosigner will become legally responsible for the payments, and the landlord won’t lose crucial income.

Unfortunately, finding a cosigner isn’t the easiest of tasks. If you’ve been asked to provide a Chicago cosigner, keep reading to learn how to make the process easier.


Who needs a cosigner?

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When you’re looking into renting an apartment, the first question you might have is whether or not you’ll need a cosigner in the first place. The answer is that it depends. Some apartments won’t ever ask tenants for a cosigner. Others enforce a strict policy that tenants who don’t meet certain qualifications must have a cosigner. Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities. The qualifications for needing a cosigner vary from apartment to apartment, however, they tend to fall under a few general guidelines.

Credit history

In order to rent an apartment without a cosigner, you’ll need to have a good credit history. This could mean meeting a certain minimum credit score or not having any serious blemishes on your credit report.

Some people don’t have any credit history, especially foreigners and young adults who have never taken out a line of credit. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it makes it more difficult to prove that you’re financially responsible.

Proof of income

Some apartments might require proof of a steady income equal to a certain amount per month, usually around three times the rent. This can be shown by providing past pay-stubs. However, if you’re relocating to a new city and/or just starting a new job, you might not be able to show any proof of income. In this case, it’s worth asking whether you can instead provide a signed job offer from your new employer showing the expected salary.

Positive references

Stricter landlords may also ask for positive references from past landlords. If you’ve ever rented an apartment before and left things on good terms with the owner of the property, this will be the time to reach out and ask if they’re willing to act as a reference. If you’re renting for the first time, or have a poor reputation with past landlords, this will probably increase your chances of needing a cosigner.


Who can be a cosigner?

If you do find yourself in need of a Chicago cosigner, you won’t be able to just ask anyone on the street. A cosigner will need to pass a strict financial screening in order to cosign for your apartment. This typically consists of the following:

  • Citizen of the United States
  • Good credit history
  • Steady employment with a minimum income
  • Proof of additional assets
  • Willingness to take personal financial responsibility in case of nonpayment

Typically, tenants in need of a cosigner will ask a parent or other relative to cosign for their apartment. However, this could pose a problem if you’re relocating to the United States from another country.


Steps to find a cosigner in Chicago

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Once you decide that you need a cosigner, you might be confused about where to look for one. There are a few ways to find someone to cosign for your apartment.

Exhaust your personal network

The first step you should take in finding a Chicago cosigner is to try and find someone in your personal network who is willing and able to be a cosigner. This might be a relative or friend anywhere in the United States who has been steadily employed for a longer period of time.

However, keep in mind that asking someone to be a cosigner is a big deal. Ask yourself if you’re prepared for your relationship with the cosigner to change, especially in case you find yourself unable to pay rent.

Hire a company to cosign for you

If you’re unable to find an acquaintance to act as a cosigner, the other option is to hire a company that does cosign. While these companies will still have minimum financial requirements, you’ll find that they’re much less strict than what landlords typically ask for. This comes at a price, though. You’ll have to pay the company an additional fee of anywhere from 70% to 120% of the monthly rent, depending on your personal situation.


Alternatives to a Chicago cosigner

Just because a landlord asks for a cosigner doesn’t mean finding one is your only option. There are a few other avenues to explore before going through the trouble of finding a Chicago cosigner.

Negotiate with the landlord

Landlords only ask for a cosigner in order to protect themselves financially, so think of other ways you can demonstrate good faith. You might offer to pay a larger security deposit or even hand over two or three months’ rent in advance. If you’re signing a short lease and have access to significant funds, consider paying rent for the entire lease period in advance. This way, the landlord will feel at ease knowing they won’t have to chase you down for rent.

Look for other apartments

Sometimes having a cosigner is simply non-negotiable. If you find a landlord who isn’t willing to budge, keep looking. Individual landlords are more likely to be more flexible than leasing offices that have standardized rules in place. Explore other neighborhoods, too; landlords in less sought after areas might be willing to negotiate if they’re having trouble finding a tenant.

You can also look into renting through a company that offers professionally furnished apartments in Chicago, such as Blueground. Since they ask for an upfront payment and a security deposit, you won’t need to provide a cosigner (or deal with a landlord at all, for that matter). For the student or professional from abroad moving to Chicago for the first, it can be a lifesaver to have a ready-to-go home complete with premium furnishings and utilities already arranged in your first days in the city.

Finding a cosigner doesn’t have to be a challenge. There are plenty of ways to find a cosigner or avoid needing one altogether. Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged if the first place doesn’t work out. In Chicago, there are new rental opportunities every day. It’s just a matter of time until you find one that works out.

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