Renting an apartment with bad credit 

Renting an Apartment with Bad Credit: Can I Do It?

The apartment rental process is tougher than ever. People tell horror stories about long lines at open houses and shady real estate agents, and that’s on top of how high rent prices are getting all across the United States.

Bottomline: applying to rent an apartment is tough even before you think about money or credit.

The average landlord or property management company does a credit check and is looking for applicants with good credit (the lowest number on a credit report that they’ll take could be 650 or above for example).

You might be asking yourself: “Can I rent an apartment with bad credit? Should I even apply to rent an apartment with bad credit? How can I rent an apartment, even if I have bad/poor credit?”

Kikoff is here to help answer those questions! Rest assured, renting with bad credit is NOT impossible (renting an apartment with no credit is possible, too, but that’s a story for another blog).

In this blog post, we will share some basic tips and information when renting an apartment when your credit report is not where you want it to be yet!

Where Do I Start?

Understanding the challenge is step one. You probably get it already, but let’s dive in just in case. Bad credit can be a barrier to renting an apartment because many landlords and property management companies look at your credit history when deciding who they will rent to.

So, if an applicant does have low credit, a landlord or property manager might worry that they can’t pay rent on time every month.

What Next? Tips for Renting with Bad Credit

1. Be Honest About Your Credit History!

Honesty is always the best policy, especially when it comes to renting with poor credit or a less than awesome credit report. Be upfront about your credit history with any potential landlords so they are not surprised by what they see on your credit report.

Explain any circumstances that may have led to your current credit, such as medical bills, losing a job, or anything else. Providing that context on your personal finances and financial obligations can sometimes make a big difference in how your application is reviewed.

2. Consider a Guarantor or Co-Signer 

Your landlord will still want to know how they will get paid if you can’t make your monthly rent. If a renter or applicant has a bad credit history or credit issues, most landlords request that they get a guarantor before lease signing.

What is a guarantor though? It is someone who is legally required to pay the month’s rent if you don’t. Some young renters, for example, might have a parent as their guarantor.

If you have a friend or family member with good credit, they might be able to co-sign the lease for you as well. Essentially, a co-signer will be on your lease agreement and agrees to take responsibility for the rent payments if you are unable to pay.

The differences between a guarantor and a cosigner can be confusing, so check out more info on Equifax if you’re curious.  

Either strategy can add an additional layer of confidence your your potential landlord and boost your chances of being approved for the apartment.

3. Provide Proof of Income, Reference Letters, and Other Documents

Provide supporting documents whenever you can. Showing steady income is always important, so including pay stubs, bank statements, and letters of employment to a potential landlord help show you can pay your monthly rent.

Demonstrating a clean rental history, history of utility payments, or a great reference from a previous landlord can go a long way towards your approval odds.

4. Look for Landlords Who Are Flexible

Not all landlords or property management companies will do credit checks or look for the same things when trying to fill a rental property.

Some may be more willing to overlook low credit if you can stand out in other ways, like great utility payment history and clean rental payment history (making rental payments on time).

Keep an eye out for landlords who may be more flexible with their rental criteria!

Where Do I Go From Here?

Putting in a successful rental application and ultimately signing a lease with bad credit can be a challenge. But, by being proactive, honest, and resourceful, you can put yourself in the position to find a landlord who will work with you.

Whenever you rent an apartment and settle into a new place, you might want to think about improving your credit.

Some key tips are to pay your bills on time (avoiding late payments), keep your outstanding debts as low as possible, and check up on your credit regularly at the three major credit bureaus.

Remember, everyone experiences challenges to their financial situation at some point in their lives, but what’s most important is how you move forward.

Kikoff has one more tip before you go! Once you’re in your new place, our Rent Reporting tool lets you build credit just by paying your rent on time. Pretty great, right? It only takes a few easy steps:

  1. Link the bank account you use to make your rent payments
  2. Submit a valid lease and your landlord’s information for verification
  3. Rest easy knowing your rent payments are being automatically reported

What if I sign up for Rent Reporting and I’m late on my rent? Don’t worry – only helpful, on-time payments will be reported. Learn how to boost your credit with the rent you already pay here.

Happy apartment hunting!