It’s tough to admit it, but credit scores play a huge role in the apartment renting process. Many landlords or leasing offices require a certain minimum score before you’re even allowed to see the lease, and others may even determine the amount of your security deposit on the score you and your partner have. While obviously having good credit will make the whole process easier, having a lower credit score is common given today’s economy. So how do you handle it when either you or your partner have a bad credit score?
Not knowing what your credit score is before you start applying for apartments is a huge issue, particularly if you have mistakes that need to be rectified. Fortunately, there are several services online that can help you uncover your score so you and your partner can tackle any problems head on. You’ll need to look at the big credit companies like Experian and TransUnion. You’re entitled to one free credit report a year from each of them, so use these companies and know your score before applying to apartments.
When it comes to renting an apartment, honesty is the best policy. If you or your partner have a bad credit score, there are ways to work around it and still get the apartment you want. For example, if you had a period of unemployment or medical bills, be honest about your debts and how you’re working to repay them. Try bringing along proof of your debt and the arrangements you’ve made. Write a cover letter or letter of credit to explain the situation. Being up front means less for the landlord to uncover during the application process, and shows that you’re honest.
Providing a letter from your place of employment confirming your salary or take-home pay can go a long way with your potential new landlord or apartment manager. Additionally, you can show your tax returns for the previous year, or even recent pay stubs. If you’ve put something on your credit report in dispute, be sure to bring proof.
Showing that you have consistently paid your rent on time at previous apartments carries a lot of weight with potential landlords and managers. Even if you’ve had issues, showing that you left on good terms can go a long way and shows that you and your partner are responsible tenants.
If you or your partner have a bad credit score, there are several things you can offer to make you more attractive tenants. For example, you could offer to have a co-signer for your application. This person would likely be a trusted family member or close friend with good credit who’s willing to sign their name on your lease and assume financial and legal responsibility for your apartment if you default on rent payments. Additionally, you could also offer to pay a larger initial deposit to show “good faith.” While every apartment community is different and may or may not go for your offers, it’s worthwhile to ask and explore your options.
Have you ever rented an apartment with bad credit? How did you and your partner fix the situation? Let us know below!