Whether you’re aware of it or not, your credit score affects every aspect of your life — including your rent. Typically, the minimum score to rent an apartment is 620. If you fall below this threshold, you’ll have to rely on alternative methods to convince a landlord to take you on as a tenant. Fortunately, you have options. Here are seven practical tips for renting with bad credit.
1. Look for Apartments With No Credit Checks
Most large apartment complexes are owned by a property management company that requires them to check potential tenants’ credit. If your credit isn’t good enough, they’ll likely turn you down. However, independently owned complexes and individual landlords often don’t check credit.
Rather, they consider your rental history and income. If you have those two things in check, you’ll likely be able to rent through them.
Find individual landlords by checking Craigslist, scanning the classifieds section of your local newspaper or talking with a real estate agent.
2. Be Open About Income and Payments
Regardless of who you rent through, honesty is the best policy when it comes to your income and payment plan. When you apply, bring pay stubs and proof of income to assure the landlord you can afford to pay rent.
In general, you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your gross income on housing. If it’s more than that, you’ll need to convince your landlord you have enough saved up and your other expenses are small. Then, they may be more willing to let you rent.
3. Explain in Person
If you’re going to have a serious conversation about income and how much you can afford, it’s best to speak in person. This is especially relevant if the complex in question is running a credit check.
If you are forthcoming and can explain why you have poor credit, they’ll be more likely to consider your case and give you the benefit of the doubt. This isn’t always the case, but there is something to be said for honesty and personal interaction.
4. Find a Roommate
If you’re still struggling to find someone that’ll accept you as a tenant, consider finding a roommate to live with while you improve your credit score. Depending on what lowered your rating in the first place, you may be able to raise it within a month or so. If you can find a friend with an empty room who’s willing to bunk with you, take the opportunity and move in with them. Rent will be cheaper for both of you, plus it’ll give you time to get back on your feet.
5. Get Recommended
You might also find someone who can vouch for your financial responsibility, which can offset a poor credit score. A current or previous landlord who can speak on your behalf is a great option. Ask them for a reference letter.
You can also gather phone numbers of people you’ve had a financial relationship with in the past and give them to the complex. Just be sure to tie up any loose ends and make sure you’re in good standing before you ask them to recommend you. A recommendation will at least always increase your chances of renting with bad credit.
6. Consider a Cosigner
If all else fails, try finding someone to cosign your lease. This might be a parent, a partner or even a sibling. As long as they have good credit and meet qualifications, the complex should approve you.
Just be certain you can pay rent every month. If you don’t, management will come after your cosigner, which can damage relationships — and their credit. Do yourself and them a favor and promise to make your payments on time.
7. Aim to Improve Your Credit
The easiest way to find somewhere to live is to have and maintain good credit. Improving your score is a must. Do this by paying all your bills on time, clearing debt and keeping the balance on your credit cards low.
Additionally, avoid opening any new lines of credit unless you absolutely have to. Taking action now will ensure a more seamless renting experience in the future.
Find a Good Rental With Bad Credit
Many people experience financial difficulties at one time or another, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve things. By following these tips for renting with bad credit, you can boost your score and find a great place to live.