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How to Rent an Apartment with No (or Low) Credit Score

Today, your credit score counts for a lot. It can determine which loans you’re eligible for and which apartments you have access to. For people who have a low score — or don’t have one at all — the housing search can be intimidating. No credit check apartments are one option, but be wary. Even with a low credit score, there are ways that you can qualify and get approved by a landlord who does perform checks. This will give you access to more options, with apartments in different neighborhoods and more desirable services.

What Is a No Credit Check Apartment?

A no credit check apartment refers to a rental property that does not conduct tenant background or screening checks. These apartments do not require you to submit the standard application, pay fees, or provide references before you sign the lease and move into the unit.

No credit check apartments work well for both eager renters and eager landlords who are trying to fill their properties. If you are a renter with a low score or no score at all, you can usually get approved for these types of apartments. However, there are risks involved.

What Are the Risks of No Credit Check Apartments

Just as eager as you are to get approved for housing, landlords of no credit check apartments are usually just as desperate to rent out their apartments.

No credit check apartments can be a gamble. The landlord may have issues filling the space if they are a difficult person to rent from. Properties may also have issues in regard to living conditions, or the rental could be a scam.

On your search for no credit check apartments, do your due diligence by researching the properties before you sign a lease.

Why Do Landlords Check Your Credit?

Landlords utilize tenant background checks to collect information on prior rental history and payment records. They want to know how responsible your are to decide whether you qualify to rent their property. This is why they typically require references and a credit check.

Your credit report includes such information as debts that you have, as well as your payment history. Background checks are meant to weed out irresponsible tenants. For instance, if you have a history of late rent payments or eviction records, most landlords would rather not take the chance on renting their property to you.

On the other hand, if you have a history of managing your debts responsibly and making on-time payments, landlords will feel more comfortable allowing you to rent their property.

Information that potential landlords won’t find on your credit report include income, employment status, and other personal information.

What Credit Score Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?

The majority of apartments prefer that renters have a credit score in the low- to mid-600s. For some housing, it could be 620; others may look for a number as high as 650.

The good news is that, even for apartments that check your credit, the landlord might not rule you out if you have a score much lower than that. Your file provides a basis for how you manage your finances, but there are other indicators that can help your case.

How to Get an Apartment With a Low Credit Score

You shouldn’t rule out apartments with credit checks because your score is low. If you don’t, you open up a lot more opportunities for what neighborhoods you can search in, as well as the creature comforts that your apartment can have, including parking, hardwood floors, and more bedrooms and bathrooms.

Get a cosigner

One way to get approved for apartments is by adding a cosigner to your lease. A creditworthy relative or friend can improve your chances of being approved, and also provide some level of assurance that they will be responsible for any rent payments if you don’t make them.

You should not, however, take your cosigner for granted. If the landlord calls your potential cosigner and finds out that they aren’t willing to take on the responsibility of being accountable for rent payments if things don’t work out, it could hurt your case.

Rent with roommates who have good credit scores

Another way to get approved for housing is by renting with a roommate who has a good credit score. This will improve your chances of being approved for the apartment.

You shouldn’t assume that having a roommate with good credit will be enough, however. The landlord can review your application and the rental history of each tenant individually before making their decision, meaning they could reject both or either one of you based on your background check.

Offer up references

Just like when you are applying for a job, the people who know you best can help improve your chances of being accepted into an apartment. If there is anyone in your life that knows how responsible and dependable you are with money, offer them up as references so they can speak on your behalf during the application process.

When applying for housing, your best bet is to submit former landlords as references. These references, in particular, can speak to your strengths as a tenant.

Provide proof of income

Most landlords will want to know what you do for a living. If you can provide proof of income in the form of pay stubs or W-forms, it can help your chances.

Landlords are always on the lookout for tenants who have a steady income and won’t have trouble paying rent, so if you’re able to provide these forms of verification then it will go a long way toward convincing them.

Pay a higher security deposit

You should always be looking for ways to cut costs when possible. However, if you are interested in an apartment, and willing and able to pay the extra up-front cost, it can work in your favor. Despite what a landlord sees in your file, they may keep you as a candidate but require more money to secure the apartment as insurance against any possible damage or missed rent payments.

Improve your credit score before renting

If you’re not in a rush, spend the next several months boosting your credit score so when the time comes to apartment search, you have a higher likelihood of getting approved.

Boosting your score sounds easy, and it can be. If you put in the time and effort, you can usually see positive results in as little as a few months. However, improving your score takes discipline. If you’re ready to take on the challenge, it’ll pay off by giving you access to more housing options and many other benefits.

7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

A good credit score can not only help you secure the apartment that you want, it sets you up for much more success in your personal and financial life.

Pay your bills on time

Whether or not you pay your bills on time accounts for 35% of your credit score. The best way to ensure that your score improves is to make on-time payments. Missing a payment can cause your account to be delinquent and result in late fees, additional charges, and damage to your credit rating.

Manage your credit utilization

For the next 30% of your score, it’s all about how much you owe. If you have outstanding balances on your cards that are close to or at their limits, this can be a red flag for lenders and result in lower scores. Finance experts advise that you keep your credit utilization at 30% or lower.

Keep credit accounts open and in good health

The length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your score. As long as your accounts are in positive standing, you should keep them open to maintain an established credit history. Keep credit cards active by occasionally using them on routine purchases, like groceries. Don’t forget to pay them off in full at the end of each statement cycle.

Limit hard inquiries and credit requests

Inquiries and credit requests make up 10% of your score. If possible, it’s best to limit hard inquiries, especially before applying for an important line of credit or rental. Too many will reduce your scores.

Make your thin credit file thicker

People with thin credit files have few (if any) accounts listed on their credit reports. To add weight to your file, apply for a secured credit card, become an authorized user on someone else’s card, or ensure that on-time utility or cell phone bills are being reported to the credit bureaus if necessary.

Consider debt consolidation

If you have a large amount of outstanding debt, you could consider consolidating it through a personal loan or balance transfer credit card. This is not the best option for everyone, but it can be helpful in keeping down your credit utilization and paying off debts quicker.

Review your credit reports

It’s important that you check your credit reports regularly to identify any inconsistencies or errors that may be holding your score down. You can get free copies of your credit reports once per year through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Cushion helps you waste less money, save more, and live a financially healthier life. We monitor your bank and credit card accounts 24/7, find and alert you about pesky fees, let you know which fees are negotiable, which banks are cooperative, and can even automatically negotiate on your behalf.* To date, Cushion has secured customers more than $11 million in bank and credit card fee refunds—and we’re just getting started.

*Cushion only negotiates fees with high refund odds. We cannot guarantee any negotiations, a regular frequency of negotiations, or fee refunds—your bank makes the final call.

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