A.D. Thompson

Worried about renting with bad credit? It's a reasonable concern.

One thing to note is that prospective landlords and property management companies cannot perform a credit check without your written permission. Some communities provide a separate document for credit checks while others simply include that permission on the rental application, so be sure to read carefully if you'd rather opt out.

There is a catch, though. Your refusal may prevent them from processing your application – which means you still don't have a place to live.

To soothe your nerves about renting with bad credit, get educated! Here's what's likely to happen once you give them the go-ahead.

Basic information

That's really all you'll be asked to provide so they can order a credit report. This includes things like your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. Some landlords will run reports through their association, others may hit up a credit bureau or tenant screening service. Just be aware that a credit check can cause a drop in your score.

The results of a credit check may include loans (past or current), bankruptcies, debt minimum-payment amounts, late-payment history, credit history and your basic credit score.

Do you know yours? You should. FICO credit scores fall between 300 and 850 – the higher the number, the better your score

Too low?

The score a landlord or property management company is looking for varies, but a reasonable minimum to expect would be roughly 600. And if you've got a major mark in your history – car repossession or credit card accounts in collection, for example – it could be one too many red flags.

If you're denied an apartment based on your credit score, you're entitled to know the reason. You could also be presented with alternative options (or suggest them yourself!). These include getting a co-signer to give your landlord the peace of mind that rent will show up on time or offering a larger security deposit.

Know before you go

Landlords shouldn't see anything in your credit report that you wouldn't see if you ordered it yourself – so why not do just that before you head out on your apartment search?

Getting a credit report in advance will let you know what your chances are. Heading into that rental office with a report already in hand could save you time – and a costly application fee. Let them review the report to see if you're in good shape to rent with bad credit, or if co-signing, higher rent or a larger security deposit is an option.

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About The Author

A.D. Thompson

A.D. Thompson spent the first half of her 25-year career behind the editor’s desk, including time at Playgirl Magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Orlando Sentinel and a host of other publications, print and online. Now a full-time freelancer, she is the Orlando expert for USA Today’s 10Best.com and writes about everything from Mickey Mouse to marijuana-based tourism with equal levels of enthusiasm – and occasional bouts of the munchies.

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