Yes, you can rent an apartment with bad credit.
It isn't going to be easy, but it's not the end of the world. If you're able to find an accommodating property manager and are willing to jump through some hoops, you'll be able to get an apartment, even if your credit is bad. If you're wondering how to get an apartment with bad credit, use these tips to get approved.
If you think you might have bad credit, the first thing to do is to check your credit.
You can order a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — through AnnualCreditReport. You'll want to look at all three, as one or more may have an error. If you do see errors on your credit reports, take steps to fix them immediately and be prepared to explain these to your prospective landlord. It will take some time, but could potentially improve your credit and make it easier to get your dream apartment.
If your landlord is a single person rather than a management company, they will be more willing to overlook bad credit or not check your credit in the first place. Some management companies don't require credit checks, but these are less common than individual landlords who don't run credit checks.
One strategy is to ask the institutions that reported delinquencies on your credit report to send letters stating that you have met or in the process of meeting your obligation. Remember that a mark on your credit can stay for up to seven years. You can write a letter yourself, explaining how you are meeting the debts and how you will be able to pay rent even though you have debts to pay.
The more evidence you can assemble that shows that you've thought hard about this problem and are tackling it, the more convincing your case will be. Once you get an apartment, make sure to report your rent payments, since those can make a big positive impact on your credit report.
If you're worried about how to get an apartment with bad credit, it may be a good idea to provide references. If you've consistently paid your rent on time and in full in the past, it's a good sign that you're going to keep doing so in the future. If you can get a recommendation from one or more of your old landlords or property managers attesting to your positive history, it's a strong case that you'll be good for the money.
You don't have to be the only one who's good for the money. If you have a roommate, adding their name to the lease in addition to yours will give you more credibility if they have better credit or a better rental history than you do.
If you don't have a roommate, getting a co-signer will let you use someone else's credit to apply for the apartment. Just be aware that if someone co-signs with you and you fall behind on payments, it's their responsibility to pay the rent, which can cause some serious personal issues.
Don't wait for the credit report to come back before you tell management about the issues you've had in the past. They're going to find out anyway, so it should come for you. If you're straightforward from the beginning and show that you're improving, they're more likely to be accommodating. This includes disclosing the type of debt (some, like medical bills, are much more easily forgiven than others) and your current income and assets. Show that despite a bad credit history, you have enough money to make your payments. A cover letter or letter of credit can come in handy here to help make your case.
Ultimately, what matters is that management gets the money. If you're willing and able to offer a larger deposit, multiple months' rent or even the entire term of the lease upfront, they'll be a lot more likely to take you, bad credit and all. If you stay in the apartment for a year, have a clean payment record and choose to renew, you might not need to make as large of an upfront payment for the second year's lease.
Show your prospective landlord that you'll pay your rent on time, every time. Offer to let your landlord take rent from your bank account through direct deposit or an online payment system. Be sure to demonstrate that you'll have enough cash in your account every time an automatic payment is withdrawn. Show proof of a steady income and a well-maintained savings account to put the spotlight on your financial stability, not your bad credit.
Your rental history is an important indicator of your reliability as a tenant. If you have rented apartments before and have never missed or made a late payment, bring proof of this to your potential new landlord. Your positive payment history could counteract a bad credit score.
Your landlord or property manager doesn't actually care about your credit. They check it because it's a proxy for how well you can pay rent. Think about things from their perspective and try to come up with a reason why they should trust you with your history. Consider what would make you be less of a risk than it would seem from your credit.
Now that you have the tools you need to get an apartment with bad credit, it's time to start looking for potential communities near you. Be sure to look for apartments that advertise no credit checks and start compiling the documents you need to make a strong case for your eligibility as a tenant.