Your credit score is one of the main things prospective landlords will use to evaluate whether you are a good fit for their apartment. Combined with other measures, like your proof of income, a credit score gives landlords a good picture of your financial health.
But credit isn’t always a great indicator, and many things can lower your credit score, even if you are in an excellent position to rent an apartment. Things like having a short credit history can artificially lower your credit score, even when you are doing everything right.
Your credit score might also suffer from a bad credit history for several years. So, your credit score might not be a very accurate measure of your current credit habits, but it can still get in the way of getting a great apartment.
The good news is that there are no credit check apartments out there that are easier to rent, regardless of your credit score. These apartments are also an option if you have credit but would prefer not to provide your score.
There are several options when it comes to renting with no credit. One thing you may want to consider if you’re in a position where you have a low credit score is to be upfront and let your potential landlord know what’s going on.
This is a good option for people who are fresh out of college, looking for their starter apartment, or who haven’t had a credit card or bills in their name previously.
Honesty can also be a good option, even when your poor credit score is related to your financial history. Not all landlords have the same cutoff for credit, and demonstrating that you’re open and honest about your credit can build trust.
Of course, sometimes you’ll need a boost even with honesty on board.
Here are some tips on how to rent an apartment if you have no credit history.
Consider a Guarantor or Co-Signer
Guarantors tend to be companies that sign on to your lease as added protection for your landlord. If you fail to pay your rent, your landlord can get the money from your guarantor. However, these services usually come with a monthly fee.
Alternatively, if you have a friend or family member who is in a secure financial position, you might consider asking them to cosign your lease agreement. A co-signer works the same way as the guarantor. They cover your rental costs if you fail to pay. But co-signers usually agree based on a personal relationship, and may or may not have any terms for the agreement.
Often, this is how college students get their first few apartments, with their parents or other family members as co-signers.
Offer To Move In Quickly
One thing no landlord appreciates is owning a property that sits empty for a long time. One way you can potentially convince a landlord to let you rent their property is to offer to move in quickly, usually within a couple of days to a week.
This is best combined with honesty. The last thing your landlord wants is to sign an agreement quickly, only to discover that you have a bad credit score later.
Put Down A Larger Deposit
Another option is to put down a larger deposit on the apartment. If your apartment complex doesn’t already ask for first and last month’s rent, you can also offer to pay that, or slightly more, upfront.
Offering to pay more on an apartment in the first place is a great way to convince your new landlord that you have the resources and responsibility to rent their property, even if your credit score says otherwise.
That’s because raising a large amount of money upfront demonstrates both the resources and positive financial habits your landlord wants in a renter.
Some landlords will also offer this as an option if you enter the application process and are just slightly below their credit requirements, even if they don’t usually charge a high deposit.
A larger deposit also gives the landlord a financial cushion in case something does go wrong, which lowers their risk.
Another low-cost option is to provide references to your landlord when you apply. These can come from your job, professional connections, and other reputable contacts that you trust.
References can go a long way to covering a bad credit score since your landlord is evaluating your credit as a way of trying to predict your personality and responsibility as much as your finances. After all, you could be rich, and still not the person they want if you habitually pay your bills late.
Looking for apartments with no credit check can be difficult. Some apartments will advertise that they don’t require a credit check, but you can usually count on those apartments being lower quality and more expensive than similar rental properties.
If you haven’t gotten anywhere with the other tips that can build your reputation with your landlord, it might be worth checking these properties anyway. But there are other things you can look for.
Month to Month Rent
Apartments than rent month to month are often more forgiving than apartments that sign a year or half-year lease. That’s because a lease can make it difficult for your landlord to evict residents for non-payment. But, month to month rentals have fewer barriers to eviction.
You’re taking on a little more risk, but also reducing your landlord’s risk. Plus, regular payment on your bills (including rent) while in a month to month apartment can start building your credit score again.
Check Smaller Rental Companies and Private Landlords
Large rental companies often have less flexibility when it comes to credit requirements because they have to reduce their overall risk, not just the risk of a single apartment. If you look for smaller rental companies and private landlords first, you’re more likely to find someone who can work with you, regardless of your credit.
Check on Local Resources
Another thing to consider is that there might be a non-profit available to help, or county and state-level government resources that can connect you to a rental property that will accept low credit or no credit at all.
You should also consider rental relief programs if you do run into trouble while renting a no credit check apartment. There are more relief programs right now thanks to the coronavirus, but other programs are generally available in normal times as well.
It’s also crucial to keep your expectations in line with your means. No credit check apartments might have slightly higher rents than other apartments in the same neighborhood, simply because they are considered higher risk. But, staying on top of your rent can help build your credit and net you a better apartment when it’s time to move.