Guarantors promise to cover your rent if you cannot pay it.
It is common practice for landlords or agents to demand that a third party (such as a relative) act as a guarantor before they will let a property to anyone whose income is not 2.5 times the rent (including students).
Invariably, they require the guarantor to live in the UK, as they can then take legal action much more easily when trying to recover rent arrears or money for damages. For international students, this poses a real problem when finding somewhere to live and they are instead often asked to pay large amounts of rent upfront.
If you are in this situation, speak to your local council (or students’ union) as they may be able to help you to find suitable housing.
We have a factsheet on starting a new tenancy available here.