Credit scores play a big role when you’re renting an apartment. Most apartment communities require a certain minimum score before you can even sign a lease; others base the amount of a security deposit on how good the potential tenant’s credit score is. Any way you slice it, having good credit will make the renting process easier on you – and by the same token, having bad credit could make it more difficult.
When asking your landlord to add a roommate to your lease, you’re asking that your new roomie shares legal responsibility for the apartment. When doing this, landlords generally require a review of the roommate's credit. They want to ensure that, like you, your potential roommate has a history of paying bills in a timely manner and can afford to pay their rent. It’s likely that your landlord will also ask your roommate to verify their employment and ensure they do not have a criminal record before agreeing to add them to your lease.
The situation becomes a bit more complicated when a couple — whether they’re married or not — is looking to rent an apartment together, and one person has a credit score that’s way lower than the others. How would this tricky scenario play out? We talked to some experts to find out.
According to Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education for Experian Consumer Services, a lot depends on the scoring model used by the apartment community.
“Some systems only take into account rental history, which can vary widely from all the details provided on a credit report,” Frost said. “When you apply for a mortgage or any other joint account, the lender or landlord will consider both your credit history and your spouse’s. However, your credit reports are tied to you individually. If one party has less-than-stellar credit, it may be worthwhile to consider placing the lease in the spouse’s name who has the better credit. Each landlord likely uses different criteria, and may require both spouses’ information.”
If you’re struggling with credit, it may take some searching before you find the apartment that’s right for you. Every landlord has a different tenant on-boarding process. If you have a partner or roommate with bad credit, it may take a while to find an apartment to accept that.
“As always, communication is key when talking with a potential landlord about their policies,” Frost said. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions about policies before applying for the apartment.”
According to a survey by freecreditscore.com, people on average rank financial responsibility the most important factor in picking a romantic partner. Women in particular find a good credit score attractive – 75 percent of women consider them an important factor in picking a mate, compared to 57 percent of men who said the same. Nearly half the respondents – 48 percent – said they discuss their credit scores with the person they’re dating.
The survey, which reflects the views of 500 men and 500 women aged 30 to 49, was taken from June 12 through 17, 2013.
Your credit score doesn’t change when you get married – marriage records are not collected by credit bureaus, according to freecreditscore.com. But when you enter into financial partnerships with your spouse, such as renting an apartment together or getting a loan from the bank, those partnerships will likely affect both of your scores, since both your names will be on the lease.
So if you have good credit and want it to remain intact, keep that in mind before you say “I do.” Freecreditscore.com recommends engaged or newly married couples talk about financial goals often, discuss bank account options and consider both spouses’ credit scores before opening any joint accounts or signing a lease together.
More info about credit and applications from the AG Blog:
How do you and your spouse tackle your financial goals? Let us know in the comments.