How to Rent an Apartment with Bad Credit
Among everything that a credit score has an influence on, very few realize how much value it has when it comes to renting an apartment.
Your credit score will determine where you live, how much rent you will end up paying, and how much deposit you have to pay to the landlord.
It goes without saying that anyone with a bad credit score trying to rent an apartment is in serious trouble. So, how to rent an apartment with bad credit? Is it even possible?
To put it in a nutshell, trying to rent an apartment with a bad credit score can affect you in a major way.
There is a high possibility that the landlord may even deny your rental application. Others may check whether you have had any prior evictions or a rental-related issue on your credit report.
Before we talk about all that in detail, let’s first try to understand what credit scores are.
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What Is Credit Score?
A credit score is a three-digit number that is generated through a mathematical algorithm by using all the information present in your credit report. This is designed in such a manner that it can predict risk, especially whether you are likely to become a serious delinquent on your credit obligations within two years after the scoring.
You will find quite a few credit-scoring models out there, but there is one that is well-known and dominates the entire market. It is called the FICO credit score.
According to their website, about 90% of all the financial institutions present in the United States use the FICO score in their decision-making process. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, the former being a terrible credit score while the latter being a phenomenal credit score.
What Goes into a Credit Score?
In order to make up your FICO credit score, all the data from your credit report will go into five different major categories. FICO gives more importance to certain factors over the others, such as an individual’s debt owed and his payment history.
- Payment History
This comprises 35% of your total FICO credit score. This factor is the most important when it comes to calculating the credit score. It is calculated by checking all your account payment information, which also includes any delinquencies and any public record.
- Debts Owed
This comprises 30% of your total FICO credit score. FICO views borrowers who constantly max out one or more of their credit cards, or those who are always close to their credit limits, as people who are unable to handle their debt responsibly.
- Length of the Credit History
This comprises 15% of your total FICO credit score. Basically, it is the length of the time that every single account is opened as well as the length of the time since that account had the most recent activity.
- Types of Credit Used
This comprises 10% of the total FICO credit score. It is a mix of the accounts you have, such as installment and revolving.
- New Credit
This also comprises 10% of your total FICO credit score. It is your pursuit of new credit, and it will include all your credit inquiries and the number of accounts opened recently.
Why Is it Important to Have a Good Credit Score?
Credit scores do not get the attention they actually deserve, and not many realize how important these scores are until they want to rent a place of their own or apply for a loan. That’s where things start going downhill.
Having a good credit score is essential because it allows the landlord or money lenders to assess the risks involved in lending you money. For a loan, a bad credit score may not just mean rejection in the application of the loan but also end up paying sky-high interest rates.
In addition, having a bad credit score also has a negative impact on renting a house. In most cases, you won’t get a house, but even if you do, you may not get the place you desire.
Other times, the amount you have to pay for rent and/or the deposit will be extremely high. Hence, it is crucial to always work towards keeping a clean credit file.
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How to Rent an Apartment with Bad Credit?
Every so often, we have no choice but to try and rent an apartment even with a bad credit score. We can say this without a doubt that it is going to be tough.
But then again, having a bad credit score does not mean that you cannot find an apartment at all. While it does take some time and a lot of effort, there are a couple of ways that will help you rent an apartment even with a bad credit score.
Let’s discuss these a little more in detail.
1. Thoroughly Analyze your Credit Report
Before you even begin looking for an apartment, you need to know what exactly is in your credit history. There are credit reports with three major credit bureaus, and it is imperative that you check out every single one of them as your potential landlord will be checking any one of them too.
If you notice that any information on the report is inaccurate, then now is as good a time as any that you use the credit report dispute process to get rid of all the inaccuracies. The lesser negatives on your credit report would mean a higher chance of you being approved for an apartment.
2. Have the Best Previous Rental History
For a landlord, one of the most relevant pieces of information about you is your rental history. For some, this could also even be of more importance than a credit score. What does this mean?
If you’re renting for the first time, you are obviously not going to have any rental history. In such cases, it is ideal for you to bring in some character references.
By this, we do not mean your friends or parents, but your employer or a teacher. They could possibly demonstrate that you are dependable and reliable.
However, it is ideal to build a rental history first, especially if you have a bad credit score or no credit at all. You can start small by either paying rent to your parents every month or renting out a room in a friend’s or relative’s house.
In this way, it shows your potential landlords that you are reliable and you pay your rent on time. Make sure that you have receipts or some kind of proof of these payments.
3. Search for Apartments Where a Good Credit Score Is Not a Prerequisite
One of the easiest ways of finding yourself an apartment to rent even with a bad credit score is by finding a landlord who does not check for credit scores. The biggest downside could possibly be that you are not going to get a great apartment.
If a landlord isn’t too keen on checking the credit scores, then it is most likely because the apartment is in bad condition or situated in a place that is extremely inconvenient or unsafe.
That being said, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes properties owned by individual landlords are more willing to take risks on a tenant who may have a bad credit score but a good rental history and a solid income.
Some of the few places where you could find such apartments to rent could be online classified listings, such as Craigslist, or through the classified section in your local newspaper. Getting in touch with real estate agents may also work out in such a situation if you clearly tell them everything.
Lastly, you could also try to scout a neighborhood since many homeowners who are renting out their home or room may advertise through word of mouth or via a sign on their yard.
4. Get Recommended
By having someone trusted to vouch for your financial responsibilities, it can possibly help dampen all the effect of your negative entries present on your credit report. Ideally, you should contact people that you have had a financial relationship with.
These may include your current bank, previous and current employers, previous landlords, and so on. Make sure you ask any or every one of them for a reference letter.
The chances of your rental application to be rejected is extremely high, especially if you have pending due balances to utility companies or other landlords. If there are past due accounts on your credit report, ensure that you pay them off as quickly as you can and get the business to print a letter showing that you have cleared all your dues.
You can further dampen the negativity in your credit report by writing your landlord a letter explaining the situations that caused all of your financial issues. Typically, medical bills, losing a job, and divorce are some of the most common situations that could lead you to have a bad credit score.
5. Earn a High Salary Even While Having a Bad Credit
Landlords can be quite forgiving if you have a good rental history along with a high income even if you are in a most sought-after rental-market. If you are wondering what qualifies as a high income to rent an apartment, ensure that you are earning at least 40 times the monthly rent in a single year.
To give you an example, if you have to pay a rent of $1,500 every month, your yearly income has to be a minimum of $60,000.
In such cases, ensure that you prove your income by showing all your pay stubs for the past year or two to your potential landlord.
6. Have an Income that Is Steady and Provable
If you do not earn 40 times the monthly rent, you can still get away with renting a house with a bad credit score by having a consistent income that is provable. Make sure you are earning at least twice your monthly rent for a while.
Show your potential landlord a solid proof of your income. About a year of pay stubs that are consistent could possibly do the trick. While having a consistent income, also make sure that you build your savings simultaneously. This will also prove to your landlord that you have reserves available.
In addition, it is advisable to have a savings and a checking account, and try to have several months’ worth of rent saved up. This will also make your potential landlord feel much more confident that you will be capable of paying rent every month.
7. Pay More Upfront
Even if you do get approved to rent an apartment with your bad credit history, keep yourself mentally prepared to pay much more money upfront. It is very unlikely that you will be able to avoid this.
Your potential landlord will expect you to pay a significantly higher security deposit compared to an individual who has a good credit score.
If you are well aware that you will be renting an apartment in the near future, begin to save and keep a good amount of money put aside to pay for the security deposit.
8. Offer to Start Automatic Payments
Offer your potential landlord’s bank to deduct the monthly rent from your account through the automated clearinghouse (ACH). This is a system wherein the money moves from one bank account to another bank account. This will help ensure the landlord that they will be paid and always on time.
However, do note that you will have to show enough money in your savings account that has been consistent for a long time. In that way, you may just get the apartment.
9. Use a Co-Signer
This is an absolute last resort when every other way to get an apartment with a bad credit score fails. In order to convince the landlord to rent out his or her apartment to you, you need to find a co-signer. This co-signer has to be someone that has a good credit score.
By doing this, your landlord may just end up agreeing to rent you the apartment. Still, do keep in mind that if you fail to pay your rent on time or at all, the landlord will expect your co-signer to pay for you. This could potentially strain your relationship with that particular person.
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Knowing how to rent an apartment with bad credit score is essential if you want a roof over your head. As you may have realized, renting an apartment with a bad credit score will be a tough task, and you will have a lot of difficulties to face.
While the ways we have discussed above could possibly help you get an apartment, you still have to make sure that you are constantly working hard towards improving your credit score.
After all, having a good score will lead to better opportunities in the future.