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How to Get an Apartment With Bad Credit

By Bill Gassett | December 19, 2020

How to Rent an Apartment Without a Credit Check

Are you looking to rent your first apartment? Finding your first apartment can be a thrilling experience, but it isn't quite as fun if you rent an apartment when you have bad credit.

It is still possible to get rent an apartment if you don’t have the best financial history. What many renters end up doing that have run into financial problems is to look for an apartment with no credit check. Finding a no-credit-check apartment, however, is not as easy as it sounds.

You are probably going to temper your expectations of the apartment you'll end up renting. Finding your dream apartment will probably have to wait, at least for now.

Let's look at what you can do to be approved by a landlord when you don't have the best credit scores. By the time you are done reading, you'll know how to get an apartment when you have bad credit or no credit.

How to Get an Apartment When You Have Bad Credit or No Credit.

Renting a No Credit Check Apartment Without Rental History

Landlords like to see that you have a history of renting. It gives them confidence that you will be a good tenant for them. References from your previous landlords will show them that you were a good tenant and are less likely to cause problems in the future. It is similar to a home seller wanting to know a buyer is preapproved to get a mortgage for a home purchase.

Character references from a source that the landlord can trust, like an employer or a teacher, should show that you will be a dependable tenant.

Alternatively, you could begin to build a rental history by renting a room from a friend or family member. You can then get a reference from them when you find an apartment.

This can also go some way to help if you have a bad credit history. Make sure you get receipts for your rental payments, so you can show a landlord that you pay your rent. This can counter a less-than-perfect credit history and help a landlord be more interested in having you as their tenant.

Highlighting Your Salary

If you have a decent income, even without great credit, it can impress the landlord. If you can prove an income that is 30 or 40 times the rent, the landlord may be happy to overlook a poor credit score.

If this is an option for you, the landlord will need to see clear proof of your salary. You should have pay stubs going back a year, if possible. Do everything to make it easy to confirm your income for the landlord.

Getting a no credit check apartment can be a lot easier when you explain your poor credit history upfront but prove to them you've got excellent income to support the rent payments.

Being upfront and honest will go a long way with many property owners.

Set Aside Savings to Show The Landlord

Another option when renting with bad credit is to have savings to cover a few months' rent. If you can show the landlord your bank statements with enough money to pay the rent for many months, they will be more likely to overlook other problems.

With savings set aside to pay the rent, you will be less of a risk to the landlord. It could be enough to overcome a lack of rental history or good credit.

Automatic Rent Payments May Help

If you can set up autopay for rent, it can make the landlord more confident about having you as their tenant. This will mean that the money will be taken out of your account each month, without you needing to do anything.

While you do need to make sure you have enough money in your account each month, this can help in combination with other factors to get the apartment you want.

Honesty is the Best Policy

As already mentioned, if you want to rent a no credit check apartment, you need to be honest with the landlord. Even if you don’t meet the requirements the landlord is looking for; you might be able to win them around and get them to make an exception.

Write a letter to the landlord explaining why you don’t have good credit.

If the apartment is owned by an individual landlord rather than a management company, you will stand a better chance. An individual landlord has more discretion to change their requirements if they like what you have to say.

If you have worked on the past problems with better budgeting plans and more responsible behavior, let them know.

Paying More Rent Up Front

When you are renting an apartment with bad credit, you can make the landlord’s decision easier by offering to pay more upfront.  Typically, when renting an apartment, you will need to provide a security deposit, and if you have bad credit, you could offer to pay more. This reduces the landlord's risk and could change their mind if you don’t otherwise meet all their requirements.

For example, you could offer the pay the first three to four months of rent in advance. Many landlords will appreciate how hard you are willing to make this work. From their perspective, it offers some additional peace of mind and also provides them with an influx of cash.

Get Help From a Co-Signer

As a last resort, you may want to get a co-signer when trying to rent an apartment with bad credit. If none of the other options will work, a co-signer may allow you to rent an apartment with bad credit.

It would be best if you had someone with good credit to agree to guarantee to the landlord that the rent will be paid each month. If you don’t pay, it will be the responsibility of the co-signer.

Final Thoughts on Renting With Bad Credit

Finding a landlord who will rent their apartment or home to you when you have bad credit will not be easy. You can expect to be turned down in a few places before you finally land a rental. By following the rental guidance here, you should be able to increase your odds of being successful.

Best of luck!

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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