7 Tips to Get an Apartment Without a Credit Check - NerdWallet (2024)

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A solid credit history is important for many reasons — including acquiring credit accounts or cell phone contracts. Often, you also need credit to rent an apartment. While there's not a specific credit score threshold that all property managers and landlords use, they are typically looking for renters with credit in the "good" range, which is generally 690 to 719 on the commonly used 300-850 scale.

If you have credit that falls in the “fair” (630-689) or “bad” (300-629) ranges, you might find yourself searching for a rental that doesn’t require a credit check as part of the application. Such rentals are sometimes called “no credit check apartments.” You might have better luck finding this kind of rental through an individual landlord — someone who owns one or a couple of rental properties — rather than a property management company that owns and runs a lot of apartment complexes around town.

A quick online search for “no credit check apartments near me” might be helpful — but it depends on where you live. These rentals are more likely to be found in rural or low population areas rather than big cities where lots of competition means building owners can have stiffer requirements.

Why is a credit check required to rent an apartment?

Most property managers and individual landlords use a combination of credit checks and background checks to determine a potential tenant’s ability to pay rent consistently on time. While these measures don’t tell a person’s whole financial story, they are the most commonly used tools to assess liability and protect the property owner.

When checking your credit report, owners are likely to look for things like prior bankruptcies or evictions or a history of late payments. Large debts or a history of collections might also be red flags.

>> MORE: Rental market trends in the U.S. — Rent is unaffordable for half of all renters

How to get an apartment with little or no credit

If you don’t have a credit history yet — or your credit is lower than you’d like — here are several ways to work around it and (hopefully) get approved.

1. Rent from an individual landlord, but beware of scams

Most large property management companies require a credit check as part of their application process. However, some individual landlords, who own one or a couple of rental properties, might let you rent without established credit.

Generally, these individual landlords will still ask you to prove income stability. Rent apartments only within your budget, even if you can get approved for a more expensive place.

Be cautious of listings for no credit check apartments that seem too good to be true. Some signs that a rental listing is a scam, according to the Federal Trade Commission include:

  • An individual landlord asking for a security deposit or the first month’s rent before you’ve signed a lease or seen the apartment.

  • An individual landlord who says that they’re out of the country but has someone working on their behalf to set you up with the apartment. Don’t send money overseas, and be suspicious if you’re not able to meet with someone or see the apartment before committing.

  • An individual landlord owner who asks you to wire them money. A wire transfer is the same as handing over cash, and you can’t get it back.

2. Offer to move in right away

Having one or more empty apartments is expensive for property managers and landlords. They have to pay the mortgage and utilities without any reimbursem*nt in the form of rent. Because of this, you may be able to rent a place without a credit history if you’re able to move in immediately.

3. Prove income or savings balance

If you don’t have an established credit history, you may be approved if your income is stable and will adequately cover the rent. It’s generally recommended that you keep rent expenses to less than one-third of your take-home pay, so if you make $3,000 a month, you’ll want to look at apartments with a monthly rent of less than $1,000. Keep in mind that as median rent prices skyrocket, it’s not always possible to stick to that guideline. But try your best to find a place with a monthly rent that you can afford.

If you don’t have a stable income, a high savings balance may suffice. The savings required will vary depending on the apartment complex or management company, but ideally it should cover several months of rent payments.

4. Pay a few months’ rent upfront as a security deposit

Individual landlords will be more likely to rent to you if they have the rent money in hand for a few months. By paying two to three months upfront, your landlord won’t run the risk of you not paying, at least for a while. Make sure this payment is well documented, so you can get it back at the end of your lease.

5. Provide reference letters

Prove your character by providing professional references from past employers, professors or teachers. The general assumption is those who are responsible at work and school are more likely to be responsible with their money. These character references are a good way to show you’re a hardworking, responsible person who won’t be late with the rent.

6. Offer to start out month-to-month

By signing a three-month lease, or going month-to-month, the landlord can opt to not renew you for a longer term if you aren’t paying. Of course, you know you’ll always pay the rent on time, but you have to prove that to your landlord with a good track record of on-time rent payments.

7. Get a co-signer or a roommate with strong credit

Ask a close friend or family member with good credit to co-sign for you. Understand that if this person agrees, they will be liable for your rent payment if you fail to make it in a timely manner. To keep your personal relationships intact, always make your payment in full and on time.

It’s also not a bad idea to consider finding a roommate. If your potential roommate has good credit, it could help increase your odds of getting an apartment. And sharing rent costs will help your budget.

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7 Tips to Get an Apartment Without a Credit Check - NerdWallet (2)

Ways to build your credit

If you aren’t looking to move right away or if you’re having trouble getting an apartment, it doesn’t hurt to work on building your credit.

  • Apply for a secured credit card. These types of cards require users to put down a cash deposit when the account is opened. The deposit is equal to the card's credit limit — if you put down $250, then that will be the credit limit, too. The best secured cards allow you to upgrade to an unsecured card that doesn't require a deposit.

  • Consider becoming an authorized user. You won't be responsible for making payments and will benefit from the increased available credit, which will lower your utilization and likely build your score as a result. Be sure to ask someone who uses credit responsibly.

  • Take out a credit-builder loan. The lender, typically a credit union or small bank, holds the full amount while you make payments over time. Once you've paid the loan in full, you get the lump sum. This type of loan helps you build a history of on-time payments while accumulating funds that can be used for an emergency or other savings goal.

  • Get credit for rent and utility payments. Rent-reporting services can help get your credit reports to reflect your rent payments. Using Experian Boost allows your rent, streaming and utility payments to be counted toward your credit score from that credit bureau. The key is making sure all your payments are on time to get credit and build your score.

7 Tips to Get an Apartment Without a Credit Check - NerdWallet (3)

7 Tips to Get an Apartment Without a Credit Check - NerdWallet (2024)


7 Tips to Get an Apartment Without a Credit Check - NerdWallet? ›

Landlords want to ensure you will make the monthly rent payments on time and in full, not just now but into the future. If you don't have a credit report proving that you've been responsible with financial contracts, consider asking a trusted (and trusting) creditworthy person to cosign on the lease.

How can I rent an apartment without a FICO score? ›

Landlords want to ensure you will make the monthly rent payments on time and in full, not just now but into the future. If you don't have a credit report proving that you've been responsible with financial contracts, consider asking a trusted (and trusting) creditworthy person to cosign on the lease.

How to get around rental verification? ›

How can I pass a rental credit check with bad credit? Find a cosigner, offer to pay rent early with a higher security deposit, and show detailed employment histories and bank statements to show you are responsible with money.

Can you get an apartment with a credit score of 500? ›

Can you get an apartment with a credit score of 500? Yes, you can. However, your options will be limited, and you may have to put down a higher security deposit or bring on a cosigner.

What is the lowest credit score to rent an apartment? ›

There is no minimum credit score to rent an apartment. Landlords and real estate agents will typically ask a potential tenant for permission to view their credit score or credit report to screen them for financial responsibility.

How can I live without a FICO score? ›

For you to survive without credit, you have to manage your own finances by saving at least 10 percent of your income each year. However, if you are not making enough to make ends meet, that is not likely." "The most important part is making sure 10 percent of your salary is enough to cover unforeseen costs.

Do landlords check FICO or credit score? ›

The simple fact is, landlords want to make sure they're not taking a risk on a tenant—and the quickest way to weed out a tenant who'll have trouble making rent is by checking the applicant's FICO® or VantageScore®. But even if you have less-than-stellar credit, don't despair.

How do I get around a bad rental history? ›

Many landlords are willing to overlook a poor rental history if you can find a close friend or relative with good credit to co-sign the lease with you. A co-signer doesn't actually live with you like a roommate but simply agrees to be held responsible as well if you damage the property or fail to pay your rent.

What credit score do landlords use? ›

Landlords use Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to review your credit report and score.

Can you hide your rental history? ›

No, you cannot hide your rental history. Because it is based on information retrieved from multiple sources such as a background check and credit report, it is virtually impossible to hide information that has been reported by a former landlord or property management and financial agency.

Can I rent an apartment with a 300 credit score? ›

Renting an apartment with bad credit is possible, however, a low credit score will present challenges. It's important to show stable income and you might even need a co-signer or roommate. Take the time to work on improving your credit by paying all bills on time and reducing debt.

Can I rent with a credit score of 550? ›

It's still possible to find a rental property when you have a poor credit score, but you may need to take extra steps to prove your financial stability, such as having someone cosign or putting down a higher security deposit.

What if my credit score is too low for an apartment? ›

If your score is low, submit documents with your application that tell the rest of the story and demonstrate that you are a credible applicant capable of paying your rent every month. This could include: Proof of a responsible rental history: Bring copies of payments you've made for your last rental, if applicable.

How to raise credit score 100 points? ›

Here are 10 ways to increase your credit score by 100 points - most often this can be done within 45 days.
  1. Check your credit report. ...
  2. Pay your bills on time. ...
  3. Pay off any collections. ...
  4. Get caught up on past-due bills. ...
  5. Keep balances low on your credit cards. ...
  6. Pay off debt rather than continually transferring it.

How fast does credit score go up? ›

How soon can you see improvement? The length of time it will take to improve your credit scores depends on your unique financial situation. At the earliest, you may see a change between 30 and 45 days after you have taken steps to positively impact your credit reports.

Does paying rent increase credit score? ›

If you regularly pay your rent on time and in full, you can have your good payment history reported to credit bureaus to help raise your credit score through a rent-reporting service. Know that any rent-reporting services could require a fee for the service, which is usually paid on a monthly basis.

Can I rent if I don't have a credit score? ›

Providing proof of income, offering to pay a larger security deposit, or paying an additional month of rent upfront, if your budget allows, can all be ways to secure an apartment when your credit score isn't where it needs to be. Your credit score can be an important factor when renting, but it's not the only factor.

Do apartments use FICO score? ›

Most landlords use FICO credit scores to determine if an applicant qualifies for an apartment. The typical categories for those scores are: Exceptional: 800 to 850. Very Good: 740 to 799.

Do apartments pull your FICO score? ›

Landlords might simply verify your identity and check your credit score. Others may opt to run background and credit checks, or look at social media, county records and bank statements.

Is without a FICO score an extra without a FICO score an extra blank may be required? ›

Explanation: Without a FICO score, an extra collateral may be required. The FICO (Fair-Isaac credit score) system is used by financial institutions to evaluate the creditworthiness of an individual.

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