Yes, getting an apartment with bad credit is possible.
Even as your credit score looms over you, credit scores that are less-than-ideal don't mean the end of the world. If you're able to find an accommodating property manager, willing to look past a poor credit score and you're willing to jump through some hoops, you'll be able to get an apartment.
If you're wondering how to find the right future landlord, and get an apartment even after a bad credit check, consider using these tips to remedy your credit history.
If you think you might have a low credit score, the first thing to do is to check your credit record yourself.
You can order a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus — 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.
You should also prepare to explain these to your potential landlord. Showing that you're already taking the necessary steps to raise your credit score can improve your chances of getting your dream apartment.
If you have bad, or even no credit, an apartment that doesn't do a credit check at is the right fit for you. Potential landlords, that are a single person rather than a management company, mmight overlook your credit score. They may not even check it at all.
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 simply adjust your monthly budget so you're able to show movement on all your payments that carry a balance. Paying down things like credit card debt and making sure you're making monthly payments on loans, allows you to use your financial history to prove a shift in responsibility. You can show you're working toward establishing a good credit history. That alone may lead to most landlords overlooking your current credit scores.
You can also ask the institutions that reported delinquencies on your credit report to send reference letters stating that you have met, or are in the process of meeting, your obligation. Remember that a mark on your credit can linger for up to seven years.
You can also write a letter yourself, explaining that addressing your debts proves you'll be a responsible tenant. This letter should also have proof of stable income to show you'll meet each month's rent even though you have debts to pay.
The more evidence you can assemble that shows you've thought hard about this problem and are tackling it, the more convincing your case will be. And, once you do get an apartment, make sure to report your rent payments. They can make a positive impact on your credit report.
Landlords want their prospective tenants to prove it's not a mistake to rent an apartment to them. Even though getting an apartment with bad credit is harder, the more proof you can use to support the argument that you deserve the place, the better. One ideal way to do this is with plenty of references.
Reference letters can come from a variety of sources and share a variety of qualities that make you a strong tenant. If you've consistently paid your rent on time and in full in the past, ask a previous landlord to write a recommendation for you that confirms your stellar rental history.
If you really want a landlord to overlook bad credit, tap your boss or a colleague to submit a letter of recommendation, as well. Combined with pay stubs, bank statements and all the other elements of your credit check, a letter like this can solidify why your rental application shouldn't get discarded.
You can even ask a family member or friend to submit a reference on your behalf, although these types of reference letters are often not as strong as those from co-workers or previous landlords.
When getting an apartment with bad credit feels impossible, the best thing you can remember is that you don't have to go in alone. Sometimes, solving the problem of how to get an apartment with bad credit is simply asking someone else for help.
If you can find a roommate, adding their name to the lease will give you more credibility if they have better credit or a better rental history than you do. It also means one more person is paying rent every month. You can persuade property managers this addition makes you a great tenant, too.
If you don't have a roommate, getting a co-signer will let you use someone else's credit as a backup to balance out your poor credit. Asking someone to co-sign on your lease puts the two of you into a financial relationship, so you need to approach this with care. Since this person becomes responsible for rent payments if you can't make them, be upfront with how much rent is.
You should also be upfront with your co-signer about how you plan to stay on top of all your monthly bills, from rent to utility payments and everything in between.
Because asking someone to co-sign your loan can put a strain on your relationship, and because it requires you to share a lot of your personal financial details, make sure you ask someone you trust.
Since you've run your credit report before looking for an apartment, you have one major advantage to exploit. You can get in front of the issues that have led to your bad credit.
Don't wait for the credit report you know landlords require to come back. Start talking about the issues you've had in the past first. This is especially true if the issue surrounding your bad credit is something that's no longer a problem. For example, if you experienced job loss in the past, which made it hard to pay rent, but now you have a steady job, explaining your past issues is easy. In theory, the landlord will understand how this situation led to a struggle with rent that's in the past.
Also, when you're straightforward from the beginning about issues and can show that you're improving, a landlord is more likely to accommodate. Not only that, they'll respect your honesty.
Make sure to disclose all types of debt — from medical bills to car loans — when figuring how to get an apartment with bad credit. Even if the debt isn't a blip against a good credit score, include it. Show that despite a bad credit history, you have enough money to make the monthly rent. A cover letter or letter explaining your credit can come in handy here to help make your case.
Ultimately, what matters when renting an apartment is that management gets the money. If you're willing and able to offer a larger security 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. To rent an apartment, you don't only have to pay the first month's rent and a small security deposit upfront. Think of it as a negotiation, where you have to make the first move.
Money talks and goes a long way when it comes to rectifying the damage of bad credit.
Speaking of money, if your monthly income makes it hard to pay a lot upfront, offer to sign up for automatic payments. Letting your prospective landlord take rent from your bank account through direct deposit or an online payment system provides reliability to your landlord.
Be sure to demonstrate that you'll have enough cash in your account every time an automatic payment gets withdrawn. Show proof of a steady income and well-maintained savings account to put the spotlight on your financial stability and your personal finance strengths, 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. Lean on a former landlord or two if necessary for proof. 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 likely you are to pay rent. If you have bad credit, think about things from their perspective. Try to come up with a reason they should trust you even with your credit history. Consider what would make you less of a risk than it would seem from your credit and use this information when you sit down to review your rental application.
Consider taking the approach of what's fair credit rather than bad or good. Arguing all your other attributes against your credit score could even out the scales.
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 start with apartments that advertise no credit checks. Then, begin compiling the documents you need to make a strong case for your eligibility as a tenant no matter what. You'll be prepared to argue your case in front of anyone.