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Tuesday 21st May 2024

The Guarantor Dilemma: weighing the risks, costs, and considerations 

Tolu Frimpong looks at becoming a guarantor and the risks, costs and consideration involved


In today’s complex financial landscape, agreeing to act as a guarantor can cause a significant dilemma.

While providing support to a friend or family member may seem like a noble act, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand the responsibilities and potential consequences before deciding to make such a commitment.  

Let’s delve into the nuances of the guarantor dilemma and explore the risks, costs, and crucial considerations involved in taking on this role so that you’re well-informed and make the decision right for you and your finances.  

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What is a guarantor? 

First things first, it’s essential to understand exactly what it means to be a guarantor. Being a guarantor entails assuming responsibility for a debt or payment if the primary contractor defaults on repayment.  

Guarantors are required for various financial transactions, including rental agreements, loans and mortgages.

Essentially, the guarantor serves as a safety net for lenders, providing assurance that the debt will be repaid even if the borrower fails to fulfil their obligations. 

Understand the risks 

While agreeing to be a guarantor can be a gesture of trust and support, it is important to understand that it comes with inherent risks and potential consequences. The reason is if the primary borrower defaults on the debt, the guarantor will become legally obligated to repay it.  

As a guarantor, this obligation can seriously affect your financial stability and creditworthiness. Therefore, if you decide to agree to be a guarantor, it’s vital that you understand and are clear on all aspects of the loan agreement and take proactive steps to mitigate potential liabilities.

Regular communication with the borrower and careful monitoring of loan repayment progress is essential to ensure financial stability for both parties involved. 

Impact on credit scores  

While the act of becoming a guarantor doesn’t necessarily directly appear on your credit report, it’s essential to understand the potential implications for your credit profile.

As discussed, if the borrower fails to make those agreed repayments, this responsibility will fall on you. Consequently, your credit record could be affected if payments are not received or on time.  

Additionally, being a guarantor may create a financial association with the borrower, visible on your credit report, which lenders may consider when assessing your creditworthiness for future applications.

It’s crucial to carefully review the terms and conditions of any guarantor agreement and seek clarification from the lender if needed to ensure you are clear on the potential impact on your credit report. 

Count the costs 

Bearing responsibility for a loved one’s defaulted debt is just one facet of the costs incurred by a guarantor. Beyond the repayment, supplementary expenses such as legal fees and court costs will follow. These proceedings are often lengthy and intricate, deepening the financial burden on the guarantor. 

These costs can accumulate quickly and have long-term consequences, even if the loan is repaid. Before committing, individuals must carefully consider these potential expenses.

Assessing the borrower’s financial stability, understanding the loan terms, and seeking legal advice are essential steps. These steps will help the guarantor make informed decisions that safeguard their financial well-being and minimise risks. 

While supporting loved ones is admirable, assuming financial responsibility for their debt requires careful consideration. As you weigh the risks and costs involved, it’s crucial to prioritise your financial well-being.

Before committing, pause to ask: Am I ready for the potential burdens?

In the end, make an informed decision that protects both your relationship and financial future. 

Photo credits: pexels

Tolu Frimpong

Mouthy Blogger

Tolu is a Money Coach and Content Creator, passionate about helping others break the payday-to-payday cycle and achieve their financial goals, through the power of intentional budgeting, saving and investing. When she’s not talking about money you can find her spending time with her 3 boisterous boys.

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