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Renting an Apartment with Poor Credit

  • Emily Rice

Emily Rice

3 min read
Renting an Apartment with Poor Credit

It would be all that much easier to rent with good credit, but sometimes that’s not the case.

A credit check is something that a majority of landlords use to examine the financial risk someone might be. For those that don’t know, credit score are calculated on five factors – length of credit history (15%), credit mix (10%), payment history (35%), amounts owed (30%), and new credit (10%).

Now, in most cases, a credit score can vary between 300 and 850. As a rule of thumb, anything below 650 might cause trouble.

So, before you start apartment hunting, it may be a good idea to read over your credit history. You’ll want to make sure that there aren’t any errors or inaccurate information before a landlord looks it over. You can get your report and score for free from Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. Check all three credit reports – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion because your potential landlord may use any of them.

Even after looking your credit over and still find that you have bad credit history, you’re not out of luck, yet.

Here are a few things that you should look into if your credit is less than stellar and still get that rental you’ve been looking at.

1. Co-Signer
While you may be the only one living in the apartment, a co-signer can sort of back you up, should you not pay your rent. Find a trusted friend or relative with good credit to cosign the rental application with you. Someone to guarantee that rent will be made, means that this person is legally and financially responsible for the property you rent.

Co-signers are not to be taken for granted and chances are, that they aren’t going to be too fond of co-signing either. The idea is to make sure that the monthly cost of rent is something the you can manage. When money gets in the mix of relationships, things can get sticky.

2. Honesty
Bad credit isn’t always a reflection of bad money management. Sometimes bad credit is a result from life experiences, such as: losing your job, getting divorce, medial problems, or another experience that was out of your control. Sharing these things up front with you landlord, before they run your credit, might point you in a good direction.

3. Money in Advance
By paying a month or twos rent in advance can alleviate a landlord’s concerns of you defaulting on the rent. Coming prepared shows commitment and that you’re responsible, setting the relationship off on good terms.

Some properties charge additional “risk” fees for those with poor credit. It might be worth spending the additional charges, especially if you really love the apartment or need to find a place to live quickly.

4. Roommate
Looking for someone to help pay for living expenses? Consider finding yourself a roommate. In this case, someone with better credit than you. By reducing your financial burden, you can continue to pay down debt while saving money and repair your bad credit faster.

5. Solid Income
Although your credit may be shaky, showing that you have a steady job and are receiving a solid income can go a long way in making a landlord feel better about you. Have a proof of income ready (pay stubs, tax return, and/or letter from employer).

6. Recommendations
Like you would for a job application, why not bring recommendation letters for an apartment application? Both serve the same purpose. They are letters from others, recommending you and why. Hearing good attributes of your character from others, current or previous employers, current or previous landlords, past roommates, etc. might sway a landlord to give you the benefit of the doubt.

7. Direct Deposit
Landlords after all want to get payments on time and in full. To alleviate some of their concerns, ask if you can have your rent deposited automatically from your bank account. If you are ready to pay on time, which hopefully you are, it should not make no difference to you.

Having poor credit or having no credit at all can be a challenge. But as you can see there are a fair amount of measures worth trying.

If none of these options work for you, there are apartments which don’t conduct credit checks.

Do what you can to make the decision easier for your landlord.