Ben Todd | Jun 2, 2017 | 1
No Credit Check Apartments 101: How to Rent With Bad Credit
It is difficult to find an apartment that you like and if you have bad credit, it becomes even more difficult.
No credit check apartments are even more difficult to find. Finding an apartment is almost like getting a loan from a bank in the sense that just like a lender would want to perform a credit check to find out if you have the means to repay a loan, the landlord or the owner of the apartment would like to know whether you can make the rent or lease payments on time and regularly or not.
Why? Well when you try to rent an apartment, you are often required to submit to a credit check as a prerequisite. If your FICO credit score is less than average, you may be denied from renting a house.
The Importance of Credit History
Credit history is essential in today’s world. There’s no doubt about that. Your credit is looked at from your cell phone contact, credit card applications, to even an apartment. But if your credit is not good, well, many of the basic necessities — like getting an apartment — can be challenging to say the least.
1) Bad Credit Often Means Paying More
Bad credit is bad for everything. You cannot even get a proper loan from the bank if you have bad credit history. Even if you do get a loan from the bank, you will end up paying more on the interest. It is very important to make sure that your credit is back on track as soon as possible. The way to do this is to try and pay off any overdue balances and maintain good financial habits.
2) Get Your Credit Report so You Can Check for Errors
We absolutely recommend that you get a copy of your credit report so that you can see what is on it. There is no reason why you shouldn’t know exactly what your score is these days.
If you don’t know it, you can sign up with Credit Sesame to see your credit score for free with no credit card needed, monthly fee.
If you take a look at your report and find any inaccuracies make sure that you dispute them. If after an investigation it is found that you truly do not owe the charges on your credit report, you can have the possibility of getting them removed permanently and may perhaps have good enough credit to even pass an apartment credit check.
3) Some landlord / rental agencies also look at Tenancy Screening Reports too
Some companies (especially apartment rental companies) look at other information besides just your credit report. One such report is called the ‘tenant screening report’ which may include your actual RENTAL history. Things like evictions will be listed on this. So even if your credit report is good, if a tenant screening report shows problematic rental history on your part in the past, you still may be denied. Note that only apartment rental companies would utilize this information — individual landlords would likely not go to this effort of screening applicants.
What Credit Score is Required to Pass an Apartment Credit Check?
If you have bad credit and you can’t fix it there are some ways to still get an apartment.
The good news here is that the FICO credit score usually required by landlords for rental checks is less than what’s required to qualify for a mortgage loan. The bad news is, it still has to be good enough.
If you have a credit score of 62o or higher, you should be able to rent an apartment without issue should a credit check be done. If your score is less than 620, you may be considered a ‘high risk’ renter. So check your credit. If you are higher than 620, you can breathe a sigh of relief. If you are not higher than 620, then you will likely be presented as a high risk renter to the landlord.
Furthermore, if you check your credit report and spot inaccuracies, you can dispute these with the credit reporting agency. Such disputes are resolved between 14 to 45 business days, but if you are successful, you could fix your credit score enough to pass a credit check.
Fortunately, even if you can’t fix your bad credit, this doesn’t necessary mean you still can’t rent that apartment.
10 Ways How To (Still) Rent an Apartment WITH Bad Credit History
After looking for the apartment of your dreams for several months it is frustrating to be denied of a place to rent because of bad credit history. If you’re looking for apartments in the wrong places then you are definitely going to hit a dead end when it comes to no credit check apartments. If you are especially worried about bad credit history and if you’re worried that it is going to keep you from getting what you want then, there are other options available to you.
1) Rent An Apartment From an Independent Owner
The key to getting an apartment with no credit check is to find a landlord who does not do credit checks. And the key to doing that is to rent an apartment from an individual / independent owner — that is, rent it from the actual person who owns the unit and not a management company dealing with renting it out or a development company that owns multiple apartments.
While it may be still challenging (apartment owners still often require credit checks as a means of sorting through potential applicants), you will have more luck finding an owner who does not require credit checks than you will finding an management company that does not require checks.
2) Show Up in Person and Explain Your Situation
When you inquire about an apartment, you may have a better chance to convince the landlord to give you the apartment without a credit check (or if they do a credit check, overlook your negative credit score) if you show up in person and they like you. If you only phone in your request and the landlord doesn’t meet you face to face, you are less likely to convince them you are a good renter, even if your credit history is bad.
3) Prove Your Income Stability
Individual owners will typically want you to prove your income, so keep this in mind.
Provided you have a stable income (and can prove it to the apartment owner), you may be able to convince the landlord to rent you the apartment. If you don’t have a stable job but you have a savings account with a high enough balance (typically, you will want to show you have enough to pay six months to a year of the apartment in your savings).
If you don’t have a stable job AND bad credit, it’s going to be an uphill battle to find an apartment. But have a stable job AND bad credit, and you can still rent your apartment.
Be prepared, however, to be able to thoroughly document all details of your income and have the documents for your bank to back this up. Don’t expect to simply give your earning figures and your job description alone. You will have to prove the financials.
As a rule of thumb, your rent should only be 25 to 30 percent of your monthly income. That means if you are trying to rent a $1000 a month apartment, you should be earning close to $3000 a month. If you are asked to prove your financials to the landlord and the rent will be MORE than 30 percent of your income, you may be denied.
4) Make an Offer to Move In Right Away
You may be able to stay individual owners to rent their apartment if you make an offer to move in right away. It’s expensive to have an unrented apartment for the landlord, especially if they themselves are paying a mortgage on it. Telling the landlord you will take the apartment and move in right away may just convince them.
5) Pay a Few Months Rent Up Front
A tried and tested strategy is to offer to pay the first couple months up front. This goes a long way to assuage any concerns the landlord may have regarding your financial stability. Some landlords will let you pay the first and last month of rent and thus overlook your credit history.
Consider bringing a reference letter from your previous landlord. Some landlords do require references anyways. If your previous landlord can attest to your reliability as a renter, you might just be able to get by without a credit check.
6) Pay More Rent Than Required
If all else isn’t working, you can offer the landlord more rent then they are asking to take the chance on you. This will go a long way convincing the landlord to let you rent the place and ignore your credit woes.
7) Ask for a ‘Trial’ Short Term Lease or Month to Month
Look at a short term lease (3 to 6 months) or ask for month to month. If you sign a lease, the landlord can have difficulty evicting you (the process takes up to a full month). This gives the landlord more power and at the end of your short term release, if they have doubts about your ability to keep up timely payments, can opt not to renew you for a longer lease. You might think of this as a ‘trial’ lease.
8) Get a Cosigner
Finally, if non of the above work then get a cosigner to sign off on the lease. Your cosigner must undergo the same credit check and, should you fail to pay your rent, will be legally liable for your payments. We recommend this only as a last means of getting an apartment with no credit should every other option meet a dead end. The problem with the cosigner option is you must have someone willing to cosign and that person must have better credit than you. Your immediate family are usually the best cosigners and likely the only willing ones.
9) Get a Roommate
Another solution is to find a roommate to rent the apartment with you. Likely both of your credits will be checked, but if your roomate has decent credit, the landlord may give you both the apartment to rent. This is similar to the cosigner method, except it’s more of an informal arrangement. Should you ditch the apartment, your roommate will still be liable
10) Go Through a Rental Guarantee Company
As a last ditched solution, you can go through the service of a rental guarantee company that offer a rent grantee program. This is basically a for profit company (you can find these online where you can apply online right away) that look at your situation and your financial ability then, if you pass their criteria, offer two solutions depending on the company:
Option 1: This company will refer you to their own network of companies that won’t do a credit check but will charge you an extra fee for taking the risk. So expect to pay extra on top of your rent or a one time ‘risk’ fee of some sort.
Option 2: Some of these companies will offer you a rental grantee. That is, they will cosign for your apartment and ‘guarantee’ your rent to the landlord. Basically, their credit will be used, not yours. However, for doing so and taking on your risk as their own, they will charge you a fee of some sort (monthly or one time — it varies).
Finding a Landlord Who Doesn’t Require an Apartment Credit Check
This may be a little difficult but there are landlords who indeed rent out apartments without a credit check. These landlords may be new to the business of renting apartments, or they may just not feel that it is important to do a credit check because they have always had good tenants. The bottom line is that IF you search enough, you should be able to find a landlord that won’t do a credit check.
This may bring you to the question as to how to go about this.
1) Look at Classified
The simplest thing is to start by looking at online classifieds like www.craigslist.org. In the housing section of classifieds like these, you can find apartment owners who advertise rentals which do not require credit checks. If you don’t see this, ask them directly if they will do a credit check. No every landlord wants to go through the hassle and cost of a credit check.
2) Check Newspapers
Another place where you can look for apartments with no credit check is the classified sections of your local newspaper. These newspapers usually contain a lot of advertisements and usually they are generalized to specific areas. You can search for apartments for rent based on the area that you looking for.
3) Contact Real Estate Agents
Another definite place where you can find landlords who do not carry out credit checks are real estate agents. Real estate agents usually have a lot of information about the house owners and if you keep in touch with one of them they will be able to locate an apartment with no credit check. You may have to pay them a fee to find an apartment, but they may be able to do more for you than you could do for yourself. You may be able to find a much nicer apartment with no credit check with the help of a realtor than you would be able to locate on their own. They would know whether the landlord is running a mom and pop type operation, or whether they are serious about knowing a lot of information about their potential tenants. Real Estate agents would know more of the specifics of what potential landlords are looking for and they may know landlords who won’t require a credit check.
How to Tell if an Apartment Requires a Credit Check
Sometimes, these sources may not have information as to whether the landlord requires a credit check or not. In these cases, it is better for you to approach the landlord yourself and then inquire what the criteria are in order to rent an apartment.
So unless it’s listed directly (sometimes it’s not), you may just have to show up in person to the location for rent and ask the landlord directly.
How can you ask a landlord if they require a credit check without alerting them that you are concerned because of your bad credit? Ask them about the application. You can ask the potential landlord if there is an additional fee for a credit check involved with filling out the application.
The landlord will either say that there is no fee involved with the application because there is no credit check, or they will tell you how much it will cost to do a credit check. Most of the time a landlord will want you to pay the fee for a credit check instead of having to pay it themselves. They may not want to have to purchase a credit check only to find out that you have bad credit and are not an option for becoming a future tenant.
And by the way, you really SHOULD know what your credit score is. Certainly, any apartment manager (or lender) who does a credit check will be. Even if you do have bad credit, it’s a good idea to know where you stand, credit-wise. Once you know the damage, you can begin to take steps to repair your credit. You can check your credit score for $1 or you can go the old fashioned way and send a written letter to the three major credit agencies (Equafax, etc) and request your once a year free credit report. Either way will work.
If you do have a bad credit history, the landlord MAY be still willing to give you the apartment. However, the deal may be that you will have to pay more for the apartment. This amount will be substantially more than what it may actually be worth. If you’re unable to get around the credit check, you might be approved for the apartment if you can pay a higher security deposit for several months of rent before you move into the apartment.
The Final Word
We leave you with a final few tips for finding a non credit check apartment.
Save Up Extra Money if You Have Bad Credit.
One of the ways to get around a credit check is to pay more money. This is either paying a higher security deposit or paying several months of rent (plus security deposit) in advanced and or you may need to show you have enough money in your account to cover your rental period. This means you need to have MORE money saved up than if you had good credit history.
Note that for people with bad credit, landlords may charge double the amount for the security deposit!
So if you do not have a good credit history and you are looking to move to a new place in the near future, it would help if you start saving money and begin looking for a new place as soon as possible. This will make sure that you have the amount necessary to make upfront payments and also the sooner you start looking, the more time you have to prepare.
Keep Looking If You Can’t Find an Apartment Without a Credit Check
There are a lot of places out there. If you keep on searching, you are more likely then not to find one with a landlord that won’t ask for a credit check, or doesn’t care about your credit. Search enough and you will find one.
When All Else Fails, Get a Cosigner
Finally, if you’ve tried everything, get a cosigner if you have someone close to you willing to be one. This is a guaranteed way to pass the credit check, provided your friend or family member has decent credit.
Fix Your Bad Credit
And, bad credit doesn’t have to stay bad credit. Once you do rent an apartment, you need to fix your credit so you don’t have to run into this situation next time around. It’s stressful, and quite frankly, unnecessary. So do the work, practice good financial habits, and work on repairing your credit score over the next year. By the time you need to rent again, you should be able to rent an apartment even with a credit check as it only takes a year or two to fix bad credit.
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