If your credit isn't quite up to par, you'll probably need a trusted friend or family member to co-sign an apartment lease with you.

Think you can’t rent an apartment with bad credit? Think again.

While it may be a bit more difficult to rent an apartment with bad credit, it’s not impossible.

To make yourself a more appealing applicant, you have to understand what property managers are looking for and know how to convince them to work with you.

Here are five strategies you might use to help secure an apartment lease — even when you have a few dings on your credit report.

Get a co-signer.

If you have bad credit or very little credit history, getting a co-signer may help you land an apartment. Having a co-signer on an apartment lease is a bit like putting up collateral for a loan. Essentially, a co-signer is a guarantor. This person would most likely be a trusted family member or close friend (with good credit) who’s willing to sign their name on your lease, assuming financial and legal responsibility for your apartment if you default on rent payments.

For property managers, having the guarantee that rent payments will be made under any circumstance might convince them to rent to someone who’s recently gone through some financial difficulty.

Offer to pay a larger initial deposit.

Another way you can make yourself a more appealing applicant for an apartment is to offer to pay a larger security deposit than what the property typically requires of its renters. Keep in mind that some properties have strict rules about deposits, so this tactic may not always be possible. But if it’s an option, offering up “good faith money” could sweeten the deal for a property manager. If you have the cash in reserve, you could also offer to pay the first three or six months’ rent in advance.

Have monthly rent automatically deducted from your bank account.

Because automatic payments are quick and easy for both payees and businesses, offering your landlord the ability to automatically deduct monthly rent payments right from your bank account is another good tactic for landing an apartment. You may want to propose this option up front, and if you do, you’ll likely need a letter of employment verification to prove that you qualify.

Request letters of reference from former landlords.

If you have poor credit, renting an apartment is more challenging. You must convince a landlord to look past the numbers of your credit score and trust that you will pay rent on time each month. In many cases, having someone vouch for you can be very convincing.

If you’ve rented an apartment in the past and been a good resident who paid on time, having your former landlord or property manager write a letter on your behalf can pay off — especially if you lived in the same apartment for a longer stretch of time. Any evidence that demonstrates your financial responsibility should help you.

Write your own recommendation letter

Being up front about your financial situation can also help you land an apartment. A strategy for renting with bad credit is to disclose that you have credit issues — before a property manager even runs a credit check. Share, as well, exactly what you’re doing to fix these issues.

You might explain the source of your debts; some landlords look more favorably on medical debt, for example, than on other debts like bankruptcy or foreclosure. You may also choose to explain how you’re working to correct errors on your credit report or to repay your debts. Providing proof, such as bank statements and bills, to back up your claims may help landlords follow your story.

In general, the more honest you can be about your credit situation — and the more options you can offer a potential property manager — the better. It may take you a bit longer to find someone who will work with you, but it’s definitely possible to rent with credit obstacles when you’re willing to be flexible.

More about credit — the good, the bad and the ugly:

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Dragon Images



About The Author

Steve Harper enjoys seeking out and writing about topics that matter to renters for the Apartment Guide Blog. He hails from Atlanta, Georgia. Find Steve on Google.

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