How to Rent a Room or Apartment with a Low Credit Score
Having a bad credit score doesn’t mean you can’t rent a property. It just means you’ll have to find ways around it. Here are some things you can do.
1. Advanced Payments
Landlords are usually only concerned by bad credit scores, which could result in late payments. If you offer to pay extra rent upfront, this could sway the landlord since it gives them a guaranteed income for a longer period. It also shows them you’re responsible since you’ve saved a significant sum.
The more you can offer upfront, the better. But two to three months’ worth often works just fine.
Another way to overcome a bad credit score is to find a co-signer with a good credit score willing to put their name on the application. This will make you seem less of a risk since the landlord can turn to your co-signer if you miss a payment.
3. Strong Proof of Income
You could also provide the landlord with strong proof of income through bank statements, employment letters, pay stubs, savings, or other income sources. This will verify your financial capacity and show the landlord you can afford the rent.
4. Good Explanation
Being upfront with the landlord and explaining why your credit score is low could help them better understand your situation — instead of jumping to their own (incorrect) conclusions.
You might be recovering from a divorce or have lost your job and missed payments before finding another job. Letting the landlord know the reasons behind your score could make all the difference.
5. Roommate-Living or Co-Living
Finding a roommate to add to the lease can also work, provided the roommate has a good credit score. A second person added to the rental agreement could make you a lower risk in the eyes of the landlord.
6. References from Past Landlords
The right references (such as those from former landlords) could also help you overcome a bad credit score when applying for a rental property. You could ask your former landlord if they’d be willing to speak to your prospective landlord about your reliability.
Just be aware of the questions your prospective landlord may ask your previous landlord so you’re prepared to respond to any resulting inquiries. Only use this approach if you have a stellar rental history with a previous landlord. Otherwise, this could work against you.
7. Rent an Apartment Month-to-Month
There are four main types of rental agreements:
- Month-to-month: These lease agreements renew each month until you or the landlord provide 30 days’ notice.
- Short-term: These lease agreements last anywhere from three to six months.
- Long-term: These lease agreements generally last anywhere from 12 to 15 months. In some cases, they can be even longer.
- Rent-to-own: These lease agreements give renters the option to rent the property for a certain period before buying it from the landlord.
If your credit score is too low and you need an apartment fast, you can opt for a month-to-month rental.
Landlords who offer month-to-month properties likely won’t care about your credit score as much since they can simply give you 30 days’ notice if you fail to pay your rent.
How Long Does it Take to Rebuild a Credit Score?
There’s no set timeline for how long it takes to rebuild a credit score. The time frame will ultimately depend on why the score is low and your steps to improve it. For example, if your score is low due to errors on your credit report, this issue can be quickly fixed if you report the mistakes.
But if your credit score is low because you didn’t make multiple payments and fell over 90 days behind on your payments, it could take much longer to recover. The effects can be even worse if your late payments resulted in a foreclosure or repossession.
Renting an Apartment With a Credit Score of 500 or Lower
Yes, renting an apartment with a 500 or below credit score is possible. However, you might not get the apartment of your dreams until that score improves.
Fortunately, you can still get a decent apartment if you provide strong proof of income, get a co-signer, or rent on a month-to-month basis.
Renting an Apartment if You've Been Evicted in the Past
While an eviction history is tricky to navigate through, you can still get an apartment if you explain your situation to the prospective landlord in your application cover letter.
Explain to the landlord that even though you have an eviction history, you’ve taken steps to live more responsibly. While you likely won’t get your dream apartment if you have an eviction history, a reasonable landlord may give you a chance.
How Long to Hear Back About a Rental Application
Depending on where you live, you should be able to hear back about your rental application within one to three days. If you live in a high-turnover rental market, application turnaround can take less than 24 hours.
During this time, the landlord will review your application and pull data from your credit report to analyze it for any red flags. They’ll also read through your other application details to see if you’d be a good fit for their property.
If your application is taking a long time to review, contact your agent or the landlord directly to find out if there are any problems.
Unable to Authorize a Credit Report?
Suppose you can’t authorize a credit report with a social security number or an individual taxpayer identification number. In that case, offer the landlord alternatives to help them verify your information.
Provide them with a credit reference, landlord reference, monthly bill statement, bank account statement, or pay stubs. If you create an iROOMit Renter Profile, you can add these screening documents through the dashboard for your reference.