How to Rent With Poor Credit

Trying to get your first apartment? Having poor or no credit won’t be your only hurdle to clear. Even with less-than-desirable credit, you can still become an attractive candidate for your first apartment. Landlords look for more than just credit scores, and they may even offset your bad credit score.

Excellent rental history

One of the most important things landlords look at is your rental history. Considering you are trying to find your first apartment, you will unlikely have a rental history. If this is the case, you will want to add references such as past employers, teachers, etc. who can vouch for your personal character.

If you must have rental history for a certain place you want, you need to establish it. Start by paying rent to your parents, or try moving in with a friend and rent out a room in their house. This shows landlords you are dependable, and have shown you pay your rent in full, and on time. Make sure to get receipts, or have some form of proof that you have paid rent.

Make bank

If you are lucky enough to have a high salary, your landlord very well could forgive your poor credit score. In most markets, an income of $48,000 a year would be quite sufficient. In order to prove to your landlord what you make, show them your paystubs over the past year.  

The savings

Sometimes making bank won’t be enough for some landlords when you have poor credit. If you have a lot of debt, it can quickly grab most of your monthly income. The next best thing you can do is show your landlord your bank account, proving you have a pile of cash sitting there. They will want to see several months’ worth of rent saved up. Upon knowing you have cash, they will feel more confident that you pay rent, and on time.


This goes for life in general, the best thing you can be in honest. Tell them why your credit score sucks, and how you plan to be a good tenant. Maybe you were irresponsible in the past, or had a financial hardship somehow and it beat you up a bit, or even an error on your credit report. Landlords make their own decisions, and are willing to work with tenants if they feel they can trust them. Explaining your situation works better for landlords, than big management companies.

Offer automatic payments

Nothing would make a landlord happier than receiving rent automatically; the same time every month. Offer your landlord to allow their bank to take your rent from your bank account monthly through automated clearinghouse, which is a banking system designed to move money from one bank to another. This gives your landlord confidence they will be paid on time.

The only stipulation about this is you have to prove you have the funds to pay rent each month. If you’ve made poor decisions in the past which led to a bad credit score, landlords may not trust you in keeping enough cash in your account. What you should do is keep enough cash in your account, and even more in savings to show you have the money.


Agree to pay more upfront

Most places require you to pay first month’s rent plus a security deposit when renting an apartment. If you really want to impress them, offer to pay first, second, and even third month’s rent plus the security deposit in advance. Remember, cash is king, so it is very attractive. Just make sure you keep paying rent when it comes due again.

Have a co-signer

If you are on your last leg, you can have someone else be your co-signer. If you have someone close to you that is willing to co-sign for you, the landlord might agree to let you rent there. Beware though, if you fail to pay rent, the landlord will ask your cosigner, which could hurt your relationship with them.

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