How to rent with bad credit

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By 

Lighthouse

Updated

June 23, 2022

How to rent with bad credit

How to rent with bad credit

A financial mistake can quickly ruin your credit. And when that happens, it definitely puts a damper on things when trying to rent an apartment.  

Most landlords run credit checks when reviewing your application. If you have bad credit, it makes it very challenging to get your rental application accepted. 😓

But, not all is lost! You can still find an apartment with bad credit with a little extra work. 

Here are 9 tips to help increase your chances of finding an apartment with bad credit. Check out the chapters we'll be discussing down below! 

What’s a good credit score for renting? 

Tip 1: Show valid proof of income

Tip 2: Have solid references 

Tip 3: Find a co-signer 

Tip 4: Get a roommate

Tip 5: Pay in advance

Tip 6: Grow your savings

Tip 7: Rent during the winter months (low-peak season)

Tip 8: Find no credit check apartments

Tip 9: Consider waiting and repairing your credit

Let's get into it! 🥳️

What credit score is needed to rent an apartment? 

There's no exact credit score landlords use religiously. They each follow their own criteria. However, the minimum credit score for renting an apartment is 650 (in most cases). That being said, this value ranges from 620 to 660 depending on the building. If your credit score falls within these values, you’ll be considered in good standing!

But before even thinking about that, you have to know your credit score. Credit Karma, Credit.com, and Credit Sesame offer free credit checks and reports! 🙏

Tip 1: Show proof of income

In the renting world, credit scores equate to a tenant's trustworthiness. It may seem unfair, but landlords want a guarantee that rent will get paid. Well, showing proof of income does just that! 

Presenting physical evidence indicates that your income can cover the rent cost. Pay stubs, employment letters, and tax returns are all documents you can use. 

✍️ KEY TIP! You can also offer to pay rent through direct deposit. That way, the landlord knows that rent is automatically taken out of your account every month. It eliminates the worry and hassle factor for them. 

Tip 2: Have solid references 

What's better than having someone back up your integrity and character? Gathering some solid references can go a long way in your rental application. Especially if you have poor credit weighing you down. It acts as an extra vote of confidence a landlord might need to accept you. 

Ideally, you'll want a referral from a past landlord. However, we know that might not be feasible. It's okay, don't fret. Getting a past employer, manager, or coworker to vouch for you will also do! 🙌

Anyone that has known you in a 'professional' setting will be good enough to write you a reference letter. Just make sure to give them ample notice. Also, don't forget to inform your references that a landlord might be in contact with them.

Tip 3: Find a co-signer

Co-signing apartment leases is a lot more common than people think. It's the ultimate thing you can do when trying to rent with bad credit. Most people will ask close friends or family. 

Okay, but what exactly do they do? Co-signers sign the lease agreement with you. They take on the financial responsibility of covering any missed payments. In other words- they're liable for rent payments if you ever default. 

Even though co-signers don't live in the apartment with you, they still have to have a good credit score. Ask someone who has complete trust in you (and you, them). 

Also, your co-signer's credit score can be negatively affected if you miss payments. So, don't forget to keep that in mind! 🙌

✍️ KEY TIP! If you can't find anyone, there are co-signer services out there! You need to apply and pay a fee, but it's worth a shot! A popular co-signing company is Insurent.

Tip 4: Get a roommate 

There's nothing a roommate won't solve! We kid, but in this case, rooming with someone could be a huge benefit. ✌ The chances of getting accepted for a rental increase when you have a roomie on board. This is especially true if they have better credit than you. It'll make you, as a whole, look more dependable. 

You'll also be sharing bills and expenses, so there will be less of a financial burden on you. 

In a best-case scenario, your roommate would sign the lease alone. From there, you could just pay them your half of the rent every month. Of course, this requires a lot of trust on your part and theirs, so be sure to room with someone you know well. 

A last resort would be to consider moving in with a roommate mid-lease. Many people look for sublets throughout the year, so it'll be easier to score a rental like that!

Tip 5: Pay in advance

This is a pretty straightforward tip, but you can always offer to pay rent a few months in advance. Instead of just paying first and last, add in an extra month of rent. 

This not only shows you know how to save, but it also proves you're committed to renting their unit.

✍️ KEY TIP! Along the same line, you should consider upping the security deposit amount. Offering to pay 2 or 3 months' worth of rent as your security deposit could alleviate some of the landlord's stress. 

Tip 6: Grow your savings 

This tip is great if you want that extra oomph when presenting yourself as a potential tenant. If you're able to grow a savings account, that'll indicate to the landlord that you'll be able to cover the rent even if times are tough. 

Make sure to back this up with statements or images of your bank account. Having a few months' worth of rent in an emergency fund will also sway a landlord to rent to you.

Tip 7: Rent during the winter months (low-peak season)

Renting at different times of the year can also impact your renting experience. Many people find it challenging to rent during the winter- hence why very few do it. As such, the colder months (October- April) form the low-peak season in the rental space. 

It could be worthwhile to look for rentals during this time. Landlords tend to be more lenient in the winter since they have a harder time finding tenants.

✍️ KEY TIP! Your chances of renting a unit will be more successful if you supplement this with other tips. Bring proof of income, employment letters, or have a considerable amount of savings to back you up! 😊

Tip 8: Find no credit check apartments

This option comes sporadically, but they're there to find! 

Most commercial properties will always run credit checks. However, many private landlords tend to be more lenient. You can usually find these private rentals on Facebook, Kijiji, and Craigslist. Some of them won't ask for any credit check, which is a huge bonus for you!

Having said that, make sure the unit and building are habitable and up-to-standard. Additionally, run for the hills if there's no lease to sign or if it looks illegitimate.

Tip 9: Consider waiting and repairing your credit 

Okay, just hear us out. We know it can be frustrating to have to postpone your move out. However, waiting it out can be a huge benefit. 

You can take this time to repair your credit. Start by chipping away at any debt and working to pay off your credit card balances every month. 

This extra time will also allow you to find an apartment you truly love. So, it's something worth thinking about! 😄

TL;DR 

Let's do a quick recap. Credit scores below 650 are usually considered low. If you're in this position, there are some things you can do to rent with bad credit. Our biggest tips would be to show solid proof of income, pay a few months of rent upfront, or find a co-signer. You can also get a roommate, provide good references, or try searching during a low-peak season. If all the other tips don't work out, you can sometimes find rentals that don't ask for credit checks. Try your luck with everything, and hopefully, you'll find something that works out for you! 🤗

Conclusion

You've reached the end of the article! We hope to have given you some useful pointers on how to get a home with bad credit. 

Check out more renting content on our social media! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (down below). 

If you're having trouble renting because of your credit or rental history, Lighthouse is here for you. We know how frustrating it can be to get turned away from apartments. We're trying to bridge that by helping imperfect applications qualify for homes. Fill out our questionnaire (here), and a Lightkeeper (one of our great team members) will get in touch with you! 😊

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