Credit score

How to rent an apartment with a low credit score

Finding an apartment to rent with a low credit score can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Although having a credit score below 600 can affect your chances of being approved for certain units, finding the perfect apartment to rent despite your credit score is not out of the question.

In addition to looking for apartments without a credit check, there are steps you can take on your own to increase your chances of having your rental application accepted when applying for apartments to rent with weak or bad credit.

Why do landlords and property managers perform credit checks?


Landlords perform credit checks on potential tenants to ensure that the tenant can meet the financial needs of renting the available unit. Credit checks give landlords insight into tenants’ financial history and ensure that rent will be paid in full and on time. Negative scores on your credit or a low credit rating could affect the landlord’s decision to accept your rental application.

What is an apartment without credit check?

Apartments without a credit check are rentals that do not require a credit check to be approved for rental. These types of rentals are generally not offered for high-end or luxury buildings, and are typically offered by private landlords looking to fill a vacancy immediately. Apartments without a credit check can be riskier to rent and are known to be indicative of common rental scams. If you’re looking for apartments without a credit check, be sure to verify the listing through an in-person visit, virtual tour, or verified photos. If you have a low credit score, apartments without a credit check are not your only option. Here are some tips for applying for a rental with poor credit.

Tips for applying for an apartment with a low credit rating

1. Be transparent on your credit score

If you’re trying to find apartments to rent with bad credit, transparency is important. Submitting a rental request can be stressful. You don’t want to blend in with the pack or stand out because of your low credit score. As part of your application, you can submit a hiring resume and cover letter. A resume and cover letter will explain who you are, your rental history, your income, and why you’re looking for a new apartment. This is a good place to explain anything that may be questionable about your credit score from a homeowner’s perspective.

It’s also a good idea to have an honest conversation with a potential landlord when interviewing or viewing an apartment. Give them the context of your current credit situation and help them understand you more personally. Are you in debt from a student loan? Were you unexpectedly fired and forced to use credit for purchases? Explain what led to your low credit score and assure them that you are working to improve your credit score.

2. Show proof of income

The best way to show a potential landlord that you can meet lease expectations is to provide proof. Be prepared to submit pay stubs, bank statements, or tax documents to prove your income. Most rentals will require the tenant’s gross monthly salary to be equal to 3 times the cost of rent. As always, do not share any tax documents or personal banking information unless the list has been verified to prevent your personal information from being compromised.

3. Consider a co-signer

iStock.com/skynesher

Having a co-signer can improve your chances of being accepted when applying for apartments to rent with bad credit. If you have a friend, relative, or relative who is willing to vouch for and co-sign your lease with you, share this information with the landlord. You’ll want to choose someone who has good credit. Many younger tenants who don’t have a rental history use a co-signer, so a landlord should already be familiar with the process. Having a co-signer means that this person is ultimately held responsible for any missed payments, damages or unforeseen events related to your apartment. This reassures the owner and guarantees that he will get his money if something were to happen.

4. Become a roommate

If bad credit prevents you from being allowed to rent an apartment on your own, consider renting as a roommate. If you have a friend or acquaintance who is currently a tenant and is looking for a roommate, they may be able to add you to their lease as a roommate. They can be the main tenant and you can be the sub-tenant. You may still be asked to provide your credit score, but the landlord may not value yours as much since your roommate is the legal tenant.

5. Offer more in the front

To compensate for a low credit score, you can also offer to pay a larger security deposit or the second month’s rent in addition to the rent you are asked to pay at the signing of the lease. Offering more money up front shows the landlord you’re serious about this apartment and, despite your low credit score, you can afford the monthly payments. To combat possible rejection when applying to rent apartments with bad credit, be sure to discuss any additional funds you are willing to pay with the property manager in advance.

6. Include positive references in your application

If you have a rental history, reference letters can go a long way. Positive testimonials from past landlords will help potential landlords see that you’re able to pay rent on time, that you’ll be a good tenant, and that you’re committed to keeping the apartment in good condition. If you don’t have a rental history when choosing your rental reference, be sure to choose someone who can speak positively of you, such as an employer.

7. Establish credit

Believe it or not, having no credit score at all (no credit cards, car payments, etc.) can also negatively affect your chances of renting an apartment. Landlords like to see a credit history to better understand how you handle regular payments. Having a credit card that you pay off at the end of each month is one way to start building up a high credit score. This shows the owner that you can handle financial responsibility and make your payments on time and in full. Getting accepted for an apartment with no credit can be as difficult as getting accepted for apartments to rent with bad credit.

Tips to improve your credit score

  • Repay any outstanding debt when possible
  • Make minimum payments on your credit cards monthly and on time
  • Limit expenses as much as possible
  • Consolidate any debt into a low interest financing option through a credit union
  • Do not open a new card without reducing the balance of your current credit cards

Renting with a low credit score can be overwhelming. While no apartment with a credit check is an option, there are steps you can take to show any potential landlord that you have a financial responsibility to be a valued tenant.

These are just a few ways to avoid renting an apartment without a credit check, even with a low credit score. Once you are ready to start looking for a new apartmentkeep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to having a new home.

The post How to rent an apartment with a low credit score appeared first on the Zumper blog.