There are few things more fulfilling than touring an apartment and dreaming up the ways you’ll furnish the spacious living room and fill the kitchen with various sugary aromas. You’ve decided that this space is the one you’re ready to call home. The location, price, and square footage meets your wildest desires, but when the landlord asks for a credit check, you’re stuck.
Moving out of your parent’s home and into your first apartment is no small feat, and the process only becomes more intimidating when you realize you have poor credit or no credit at all.
Before giving up on finding your own place, weigh your options to secure the place sans stellar credit. Renting an apartment with no or poor credit may require some research, but it is not impossible. Use these tips to hurdle over your credit score obstacles and make your apartment dreams a reality.
Confirm the Facts
Instead of assuming your credit score doesn’t measure up to your dream home’s standards, be sure to complete a free credit score check before your potential landlord does. Turbo offers a comprehensive and completely free credit report tool that employs the VantageScore model to break down your individual score.
First-time renters may panic before knowing where they stand and worry they’ll need to jump through hoops to land an apartment. Save yourself the grief and use the World Wide Web to your advantage. You may be pleasantly surprised to find your credit score is not all that bad.
Prove Solid Income
If you’re working on growing your credit score, one of your saving graces when looking for an apartment will be proving that you have a steady income.
When applying for an apartment, make sure you have recent pay stubs and tax returns handy. You could even request a formal letter from your employer to verify your employment status. Showing evidence of your financial stability will give your landlord peace of mind and heighten your chances of being selected for the space.
Offer to Pay Direct Deposit
After proving your steady income, you might consider offering to pay your rent via direct deposit. This lets your landlord know that your incoming cash flow is comfortably fixed enough for regular withdrawals straight from your checking account.
Paying via direct deposit also presents you as a serious candidate because your landlord will immediately know how you intend on paying each month’s rent. With auto-withdrawal, your payments will never be late and your landlord will appreciate having a hassle-free tenant.
Shop Around Surrounding Areas
Maybe the apartment you adore the most is in the heart of a swanky city, or on the outskirts of a chic suburb. Location is a huge influencing factor on how well low credit scores fare in terms of securing a lease. If you’re hunting in pricier higher-income areas, chances are that landlords will require higher credit scores.
Renting an apartment with poor or no credit may become far more possible when you expand your potential neighborhood map. Apartment owners in middle to low-income areas may be more likely to accept new tenants with struggling credit scores. So while you may sacrifice the convenience of being in a bustling borough or proximity to the hippest coffee shops, your odds of being accepted with poor or no credit are exponentially higher.
Find a Roommate
Though you’ll have to turn the kitchen, bathroom, and living room into communal spaces, adding a roommate to your search can alleviate some of the headache. Ideally your roommate would have a better credit score than your own, making the landlord more likely to accept your application. So while your dream space can become a reality with a friend new or old, you’ll be able to cut your cost of living in half, too. Not only can you can work on improving your credit in your shared space, but you’ll always be in good company as well!
Search for Owner-Rented Properties
Usually found in housing classifieds, property owners are always posting open spaces online in hopes of finding potential tenants. Credit checks are almost guaranteed facets of the application process for apartment complexes with leasing offices, but that might not always be the case with owner-rented properties.
Like leasing offices, owners still want to be certain that you’re financially stable enough make ends meet each month. However unlike strict leasing office landlords, owners may give a bit more slack to those working to improve their credit stability. Still come prepared with evidence of a steady income and proof of financial responsibility to make the most persuasive case for yourself.
Pinpointing the perfect owner-rented property takes a great deal of patience and research, so it is in your best interest to be thorough in your search. Be wary of any red flags that may lead you to an online rental scam. As daunting a process as apartment hunting can be, the end result comes with plenty of promise!
Offer to Pay More Up Front
While your concerns are largely based around finding a suitable location that will look past your bad credit score, your landlord is focused on signing an unproblematic tenant. It is your job as an apartment-hunter to present yourself as risk-free as possible. While offering to pay more than your first month’s rent and security deposit may put a dent in your wallet, property management may recognize that you mean business.
Some landlords charge an automatic risk fee for tenants with poor credit scores, while others who don’t might consider the gesture in good faith. If you’re faced with a landlord that seems to be leaning toward rejecting your application, it may pay off to negotiate a higher upfront payment.
Provide Letters of Recommendation
Much like a job search, convincing your landlord that you’re the perfect fit for their space is part of the tedious application process. Providing glowing letters of recommendation can boost your odds of acceptance despite your damaged credit score. Though it may be unconventional, bringing letters of recommendation from previous landlords, current or previous employers, or even past housemates help verify your good character.
If your credit score doesn’t meet your potential landlord’s standards, they’ll likely need as much evidence of your current stability and intentions of growing your credit as possible. What your employers and past landlords say about you carries far more weight than what you say about yourself, so use it to your advantage during this process.
Be Honest and Upfront
Sometimes life can take you for a spin and land you in hot enough water to boil down your credit score. Every person’s reason for their poor credit is different, and every person has a different method of working to build it back up. Recent grads and young independents often find their transition into the real world to be much more complex than they imagined. Loan repayments can go by the wayside and new bills can be easily forgotten— turning naivety into delinquency.
Whether it was a number of late payments, defaulting on payments, or filing bankruptcy, time and responsible progress can recover a damaged credit score. Fortunately, some landlords will hear you out and given all proper documentation proving your progress, will understand that sometimes life gets in the way. Your story just might boost your likeability and convince a hesitant landlord to take a chance on your application.
Enlist the Help of a Guarantor
While recent grads likely want to taste a bit of freedom and independence from their parents, Mom and Dad may actually be the ones who help secure their dream apartment. Asking
someone with good credit to cosign the rental application assures that regardless of your financial situation, rent will be paid. In the event that you find yourself swamped and struggling to pay the monthly rent, the cosigner becomes responsible for covering the payments.
Having a safety net for worst-case scenarios gives your landlord the extra sense of security they may need after signing on someone with bad credit. A co-signer might be the tipping factor between you and your dream place, so don’t be afraid to ask a parent, legal guardian, or well trusted friend for support.
Finding, applying to, and securing the perfect apartment can be a long process that may require patience, research, and lots of paperwork.
While a low credit score may seem like an obstacle, there are many ways in which your lack of credit can be worked around. Proving your growing financial responsibility, steady income, and honest character may transform your lavish loft dreams into a very concrete reality!