What is a co-signer and why do I need one?

The co-signer is taking a risk when agreeing to co-sign your lease. A cosigner ensures that the landlord will be able to recoup any unpaid rent or financial charges that incur throughout the duration of the lease. If tenants fail to pay rent, the co-signer risks adverse impacts on their credit report, wage garnishment, and the possibility of being taken to court.

Wisconsin law states that everyone who signs the lease is “joint and severally liable.” This means that each tenant (or co-signer) can be held individually responsible for the mistakes of any tenant. Tenants can be sued or evicted individually or as a group for the mistakes that one person or all of them have made, at the discretion of the landlord.  

Nearly all 1st-time tenants require a co-signer. You will need a co-signer if you don’t have prior rental history or proof of a monthly income that is 2-3 times the cost of monthly rent.