How to Find an Apartment With Bad Credit

Updated on April 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • Yes, you can rent an apartment with bad credit, but it may require additional effort, such as finding flexible landlords, offering a larger security deposit, or getting a cosigner.
  • Landlords look for various elements in a credit report, including rental history, employment history, payment track record, outstanding debts, and derogatory remarks.
  • You can improve your credit score by making timely bill payments, decreasing your debt, becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, disputing errors, and more.
  • Even with bad credit, there are many strategies for renting an apartment, such as renting from private landlords, seeking out month-to-month rentals, offering to move in quickly, and finding roommates to split costs.

Renting an apartment can be challenging, especially in areas with a competitive housing market and high rent. Many landlords require renters to have a good credit history to show that they will keep up with rent payments. In these situations, you may wonder how you can get an apartment with bad credit (similar to trying to rent an apartment without credit). Read on to learn more about your options.

Can You Rent an Apartment With Bad Credit?

The simple answer is yes. You can rent an apartment even if you have bad credit, but you may need to do some extra work to convince the landlord to accept you as a tenant.

Another option is to look for apartment rentals that do not require a credit check at all. In this way, you can avoid the question of good or bad credit entirely.

How to Get an Apartment with Bad Credit or No Credit

With rising inflation, rents are the highest they have ever been. Finding an apartment can be challenging these, especially if you have bad credit or no credit history. To find a suitable apartment, you’ll need persistence and creativity. There are still great rentals available even with less-than-perfect credit.

In this blog post, I’ll share 11 tips to help you secure an apartment without undergoing a stringent credit check.

1. Search Online Listings for Flexible Landlords

Many landlords now advertise their rental policies right in the apartment listings. As you browse sites like Apartment List, look for phrases like “flexible credit policy” or “credit not an issue.” Use the site’s messaging system to directly ask landlords about their credit check requirements.

2. Rent From Private Landlords

Privately-owned rental properties often have more flexibility than big apartment complexes. Search for “for rent by owner” listings to find landlords who may work with you despite bad credit. Discuss your situation honestly and see if they’ll compromise with a larger security deposit.

Hers’s what a renter with six figure income and a poor credit history shared:

Being honest with the landlord helped. Following the viewing, I expressed my interest and was completely honest with them. I explained that I am relocating to the city due to a new job opportunity that substantially improves my financial situation, meeting the three times rent requirement. However, I also cautioned them that my credit check would reveal a very poor score due to financial difficulties I faced until this point in my life.

The landlord understood the situation and offered the rental.

3. Seek Out Month-to-Month Rentals

Short-term, month-to-month apartment rentals are naturally less strict about tenant qualifications. Landlords renting out temporary furnished rentals may forego credit checks completely.

4. Offer to Move In Quickly

Landlords with vacancies want to fill them fast. Highlight your ability to move in ASAP and start paying rent right away to appeal to their urgency.

5. Provide Proof of Income

Even with low credit, most landlords require solid employment and income docs. Show them you can afford the rent to ease any doubts. Offer bank statements too if you have ample savings.

6. Use a Reference From a Previous Landlord

Good landlord references can be just as key as your credit score. If you always paid rent on time in the past, make sure to have this verified by past rental managers and property owners.

7. Offer a Larger Security Deposit

Put down 2 or 3 months rent upfront as a show of good faith. Your willingness to put more money down can help sway landlords focused on risk and financial liability. But know your state laws on security deposit limits.

A renter in Seattle paid a 5-6 month deposit to secure the apartment they liked. The landlord reduced the security deposit requirement after 6 months of stay and on-time payments.

8. Bring On a Cosigner

If friends or family have great credit, see if they can cosign your lease and be liable for rent if you default. This gives landlords extra assurance.

Julie from Sacramento said that she got her boyfriend as a cosigner. Because she has had her credit dinged because of store credit cards and she was moving in with her boyfriend, the landlord accepted boyfriend’s credit score and we submitted a joint rental application.

9. Secure a Lease Guarantor

Similar to a cosigner, a lease guarantor promises to cover your rent payments as part of your rental agreement. Clarify if the landlord wants a guarantor or true cosigner before making requests.

10. Emphasize Other Financial Assets

If your income and savings present you as financially stable, play this up as much as possible, even with lower credit. Money in the bank can talk louder than your scores in some cases.

11. Find Roommates to Split Costs

Lower your rental burden by bringing on roommates with better credit to apply alongside you. Together you can afford higher rent and reassure landlords better as a group.

What Credit Score Is Required to Rent an Apartment?

The necessary credit score varies depending on the property and the landlord. While many landlords favor tenants with a credit score of 620 or above, some may have higher standards, and others may not consider your credit score as a determining factor. It’s always beneficial to check specific rental company guidelines or inquire directly with the landlord.

What Do Landlords Look for On Credit Reports?

A credit report offers more insights than just a credit score for potential renters. It paints a picture of your financial behavior over time. When landlords conduct a credit check for prospective tenants, they typically focus on:

  1. Rental History: This can capture records of evictions, breaches of lease agreements, and patterns of late or defaulted payments. Some landlords might report these to credit agencies.
  2. Employment History: Although not a primary feature, past or present employers might appear on the report, especially if they were referenced in credit or loan applications.
  3. Payment Track Record: This section highlights your punctuality in settling bills. Consistently late or missed payments could dent your chances of securing a rental agreement.
  4. Outstanding Debts: Both current and previous debts are listed, enabling landlords to determine your debt-to-income ratio using your provided payslips. Demonstrating the capability to manage and repay debts boosts your application’s strength.
  5. Delinquency and Collections: An account turns delinquent with missed due dates, and if the negligence persists, it might be handed over to a collections agency or sold off. Both scenarios are detrimental to your credit standing.
  6. Bankruptcy Details: While a bankruptcy filing does impact your credit, landlords may perceive recent filings as indicators of potential rental risks.
  7. Derogatory Remarks: Negative markers like car repossessions or home foreclosures can adversely affect your application, as they indicate financial irresponsibility.

Ultimately, landlords are assessing the financial risks associated with a potential tenant. An applicant boasting a high income but with a trail of missed payments might not be deemed trustworthy. Conversely, someone who experienced bankruptcy years prior but has since exhibited fiscal responsibility might still be favorably considered.

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Final Thoughts

When answering the question of can you get an apartment with bad credit, it is important to understand all your options. Firstly, some rental situations do not require a credit check at all. Otherwise, you can get help from someone else—either a cosigner or roommate—or offer to pay an extra month upfront. If you do not need housing urgently, you can also spend some time improving your credit score before you rent. And if you’re struggling to repair your credit score, check out Credit Saint. If they’re credit specialists can’t help you, they offer a 90-day money-back-guarantee.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I rent an apartment with bad credit?

Yes, it is possible to rent an apartment with bad credit. However, you may encounter some challenges and may need to provide additional documentation or pay a higher security deposit.

Will my bad credit affect my rental application?

Yes, landlords often check credit scores as part of the rental application process. Having bad credit may make it harder to get approved for an apartment, but it does not necessarily mean you will be denied.

How can I improve my chances of renting with bad credit?

You can improve your chances of renting with bad credit by providing strong references, offering a larger security deposit, or getting a cosigner with good credit to vouch for you.

Should I explain my bad credit to the landlord?

It can be helpful to explain your bad credit to the landlord, especially if there are extenuating circumstances. Be prepared to provide an explanation and any supporting documentation that may help your case.

Can I use a guarantor or cosigner to rent an apartment with bad credit?

Yes, using a guarantor or cosigner with good credit can increase your chances of renting an apartment with bad credit. They will be responsible for the rent if you are unable to pay.

Are there apartments that don’t require a credit check?

Yes, some apartments may not require a credit check, especially if they are privately owned or rented out by individual landlords. Look for these types of rentals as they may be more flexible.

Will paying a larger security deposit help me rent with bad credit?

Paying a larger security deposit can make you a more attractive candidate to landlords, as it provides them with extra financial protection. It may help offset the risk associated with your bad credit.

Can I offer to pay rent in advance to compensate for my bad credit?

Yes, offering to pay several months of rent in advance can help overcome concerns about your bad credit. This shows landlords that you are committed to meeting your financial obligations.

Should I consider a co-living arrangement or shared apartment?

Co-living arrangements or shared apartments can be a good option if you have bad credit. Landlords may be more lenient when it comes to credit checks, and you can split the rent with roommates.

How long does bad credit affect my ability to rent?

The impact of bad credit on your ability to rent can vary. Generally, negative information stays on your credit report for seven years. However, as time passes and you demonstrate responsible financial behavior, its impact may lessen.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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