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Ask Dave

Little Brother Needs a Co-Signer

Bernadette's little brother needs to rent an apartment. He needs a co-signer and has asked Bernadette and her husband. Dave says no way.

QUESTION: Bernadette in Fresno has a little brother who needs to rent an apartment. He needs a co-signer and has asked Bernadette and her husband. Dave says no way.

ANSWER: No. One hundred percent of the time you co-sign, you have a problem. You’re going to end up having a problem with your brother, and your husband’s going to end up having a problem with your brother. This will last for 15 years, and when your brother is married and has three kids, he still will not be coming to Christmas when he’s 38 years old because you co-signed an apartment for him when he was in college. Don’t do this. It’s going to be a problem.

What I would do is try to help him get into an apartment, and guess what? There are apartments you can move into if you’re in a college town and you don’t have any credit and you’re a college kid. Because you know what? They rent to college kids. Duh! If you have an apartment complex or a duplex or a house or whatever that you rent in a college marketplace, you’re well accustomed to dealing with young men and young women who don’t have a co-signer and don’t have credit. Maybe he doesn’t get to live in the particular apartment he wants, but so what?

Not being able to get an apartment is just not true. It’s not an accurate description of what’s going on.

You don’t have the money to pay his rent. When he doesn’t pay it, you won’t have the money to pay it. If you wanted to do something and help him a little bit financially—like a little bit with a deposit or something—not a lot of money, but you’re not really in a position to do much because you’re broke and you’re digging your way out of debt, and you make $48,000 a year. You have debt. You have no money. If he doesn’t pay this rent, you’re not going to have the money to pay it. That’s what the co-signing sets you up for. If you wanted to throw $500 to help your little brother get set up in college or something like that and have a garage sale and scratch that up, help him find a job so he can make some money, those kinds of things, I want to encourage him. I want to help him. I’m not trying to abandon him, but I’m not signing up for him. That will get you into a mess. Proverbs 17:18 says, “One who co-signs for another is stupid.” That’s what it says in the Contemporary English Version. New King James is, “One lacking in sense signs surety for another.” Every time I have co-signed for someone, I got in trouble. And two times a guy co-signed for me, and I went broke and he got in trouble. You just don’t want to get in those situations. It’s a mess.