Can You Rent an Apartment If You Have Bad Credit?
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 landlord and willing to jump through some hoops, you’ll be able to get an apartment, even if your credit is bad.
Check your credit
If you think you might have bad credit, the first thing to do is make sure. 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 the best way to not be affected by bad credit is to have good credit.
Think like a landlord
Your landlord doesn’t actually care about your credit. They check it because it’s a proxy for how well you can pay rent. Think about what concessions you’re willing or able to make in that context. Think about things from your landlord’s perspective and try to come up with a reason why they should trust you with your history. Think about what would make you be less of a risk than it would seem from your credit.
Find a community that doesn’t check credit
If your landlord is a single person rather than a management company, they’re a lot more likely to be willing to overlook bad credit or not check your credit in the first place. There are some companies that don’t require credit checks, but those are less common than individual landlords who don’t run credit checks.
Repairing your credit
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 amass that shows that you’ve thought hard about this problem and are tackling it, the more convincing your case.
Get a recommendation from your old landlords
If you’ve consistently paid your rent on time and in full in the past, that’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 attesting to that, it’s a strong case that you’ll be good for the money.
Get a cosigner or roommate
You don’t have to be the only one who’s good for the money. If you have a roommate, getting their name on 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. Make sure that your relationship with your co-signer could survive if something went wrong before you commit to that.
Be honest and show improvement
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, showing that, despite a bad history, you have enough money currently and coming in to make your payments.
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 an upfront payment for the second year’s lease. You may also offer to have the funds automatically deducted from your bank account, rather than having to actively make payments.
If none of those options work well for you, there are apartment communities which don’t conduct credit checks. But even if your credit situation is negative, don’t give up hope on finding an apartment until you’ve used the above strategies!