A guarantor plays a crucial role in car finance, particularly when the borrower might not have the financial standing or credit history to secure the loan on their own. Acting as a safety net for lenders, the guarantor promises to cover any missed payments or defaults on the loan. This guide will outline the primary responsibilities of a guarantor in the context of car finance in the UK.
Understanding the role of a guarantor
Before becoming a guarantor, it’s essential to understand the responsibilities you’re taking on. You’re not just co-signing a document; you’re vouching for the borrower’s ability to repay the loan. If they fail, these responsibilities fall to you.
1. Making payments on behalf of the borrower
If the borrower fails to make regular repayments on the car finance agreement, the guarantor is legally obliged to step in and cover the missed payments. This can include monthly instalments, interest, and any associated fees. The lender will typically contact the guarantor after the borrower misses a payment, requesting the owed amount.
2. Covering any defaults
If the borrower defaults on the loan, which means they can no longer meet the repayment terms, the guarantor is responsible for settling the outstanding amount. This might not just be a few missed payments, but potentially the entire remaining balance of the loan.
3. Being subject to credit checks
When agreeing to become a guarantor, you will undergo a credit check. The lender wants to ensure that if the borrower fails to make payments, the guarantor is financially stable enough to cover the debt. Therefore, to be a guarantor, you often need to have a good credit history.
4. Updating personal details
Just as with any financial agreement, the guarantor must ensure their personal details are always up-to-date with the lender. If the guarantor moves house, changes their phone number, or undergoes any significant life changes, it’s essential to notify the lending institution.
5. Maintaining communication with the borrower
A successful guarantor-borrower relationship is often built on clear communication. It’s advisable for the guarantor to maintain regular communication with the borrower to ensure they are up-to-date with payments and understand any potential financial struggles the borrower may be facing.
Potential implications for guarantors
Becoming a guarantor is not without its risks. Here are some potential implications:
1. Credit score impact
If the borrower defaults and the guarantor also fails to make the necessary payments, it can negatively impact the guarantor’s credit score. This can hinder the guarantor’s ability to secure future loans or finance agreements.
2. Financial strain
Covering missed payments or defaults can put a strain on the guarantor’s finances. It’s vital to ensure that, if called upon, the guarantor can cover the loan’s costs without putting themselves into financial hardship.
3. Legal consequences
In cases where both the borrower and guarantor fail to repay the loan, the lending institution may take legal action to recover the owed amount. This can result in court proceedings and additional legal costs.
Becoming a guarantor in car finance is a significant commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It involves not just supporting the borrower in securing the finance but also taking on the responsibility of repayments should they default. Understanding the full spectrum of responsibilities and potential implications can help prospective guarantors make informed decisions. Always ensure you’re in a stable financial position and seek independent financial advice if considering this role.