How to Rent an Apartment with Bad Credit

Renting an apartment with bad credit can be tough, but it’s certainly not impossible. And when you find an apartment you really love, you don’t want to give up on it due to a bad financial track record. After you’ve learned the basics about credit, you can take the right steps to facilitate renting an apartment with poor credit. Here are 6 ways you can improve your chances of renting with bad credit.

1. Order Your Credit Report

Before you start looking for an apartment, find out what your financial history looks like.  You are entitled by law to access your credit report for free once every 12 months through  This site is the only one that is federally authorized to give you a free credit report from all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).  Once you receive them, make sure your credit reports don’t have any inconsistencies or false information.  If you will be applying at a lot of apartments, consider making copies of your report and handing them in with your application directly.  (Too many inquiries on your report can hurt your score because it can appear as though you are attempting to get a lot of new credit in a short time frame.)

2. Know Your Credit Score

When you order your free annual credit report, you can usually request your credit score for a small fee.  Otherwise, you can use an online monitoring service that provides you with your credit score for a fee.  Evaluate your credit score so you know what you’re working with and what apartment landlords will see when they process your rental application.

3. Be Honest with the Landlord

When you do meet with the landlord or leasing agent, be honest with them about the state of your credit.  Working one-on-one and establishing a relationship may help you secure a lease.  Talk to the landlord about the reasons for your bad credit and the steps you plan to take to repair your credit.

4. Provide Proof of Reliability

When working with the landlord, you can also go one step further and provide additional documentation of your reliability.  Landlords run credit checks to evaluate your ability to be a responsible renter, and providing documentation to supplement your poor credit could give that credibility a boost.  For example, consider letters of recommendation from your employer, a letter from your previous landlord, or a letter explaining the state of your credit and how you are working to better it.  Ask the landlord if there is any other information you can provide, as well.

5. Get a Cosigner for Your Apartment Lease

If you have a friend or family member who is willing to vouch for your financial credibility, have them cosign your lease.  This is a good option for renters with bad credit or a minimal credit history.

6. Pay in Advance

Though not the most ideal option, if you have the cash then you can offer to pay up front for your deposits and the first several months of rent.  You can also offer to pay a larger security deposit than the one required in the lease.

For more help with moving apartments, renter’s insurance, and keeping up with your credit score, visit the Moving Center.

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