How to Rent an Apartment with Bad Credit

In the old days, renting an apartment was simple. You gave your landlord a security deposit and the first month’s rent, and the place was yours. Nowadays its very hard to rent anything with bad credit. On top of rental applications, security deposits, and signed contracts, many landlords and rental agencies require a credit check. Fortunately, a few tips and tricks can help you find the perfect apartment in spite of past financial mistakes. Discover how to rent an apartment with bad credit.

Be Honest

The first step toward getting an apartment with bad credit is honesty. Before a landlord can conduct a credit check, explain that you made poor financial decisions in the past, and describe the steps you are taking to correct them. A landlord may admire your truthfulness and give you a chance. However, keep in mind that being honest can work with individual landlords, but rental management companies may not have the flexibility to bend the rules.

Provide Good References

When it comes to renting an apartment, a stellar rental history goes a long way. If you kept your last place in good condition, made timely rent payments, and were considerate of your neighbors, then you will have a better chance of landing another apartment. If you’re renting your first apartment…take the names and phone numbers of employers, teachers, and other non-related adults who can vouch for your dependability.

Make a Good Income

Landlords may look past a poor credit score if you make a good salary. According to the folks at the real estate website Trulia.com, a good annual salary is at least 40 times your monthly rent (i.e., $40,000 annual pay for a monthly rent of $1,000). You may need to provide several months of pay stubs to a prospective landlord to validate your income.

Offer to Sign up for ACH Payments

Nearly every individual or company who collects regular payments appreciates receiving money through autopay. If you’re wondering how to rent an apartment with bad credit, then offer to have your monthly lease payment deducted from your bank account through an automated clearinghouse (ACH) system. This helps reassure your landlord that the rent will be paid on time.

Get a Co-Signer

When a potential renter has bad credit or no credit, some rental agencies and landlords allow for a co-signer. This could be a parent or another adult willing to be responsible for any unpaid rent or damage to the apartment. In some cases, this responsibility is lifted after the renter has lived in the apartment for six months to a year without incident.

Become an Authorized User on a Parent’s Credit Card

Do you have a few months to spare before you need to rent? JP Livingston from the personal finance website The Money Habit.org recommends becoming an authorized user on a parent’s credit card. “When you are an authorized user, the entire history of that credit card comes with you,” according to Livingston. To put mom or dad at ease, allow them to keep the card and hand it over to you for an occasional gasoline purchase, which you promptly reimburse.

Opt for Individual Landlords Over Rental Agencies

One trick to renting with bad credit is finding a landlord who doesn’t check credit ratings. Although large rental agencies almost always require a credit check, some individual landlords rely only on a rental application and references.

Where to Find Apartments for Rent with Bad Credit

  • If you’re looking for an individual landlord who might not require a credit check, try searching some of these avenues:
  • Craigslist.org, a free classified ads website
  • The classified ads section of your local newspaper
  • Rental bulletin boards at local colleges and universities
  • Local real estate agencies who handle rentals
  • “For Rent” signs posted in windows and yards throughout your city or town
  • Friends who may know someone renting an apartment
  • Find an apartment through ApartmentSearch.com (using this site, you can even receive a $200 award after you sign your lease).

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