When you have bad credit, you don't just have trouble making purchases on credit. You also run into difficulties when you try and rent an apartment. However, having bad credit doesn't mean that you can't get a good place to hang your hat. This is how you can get a good apartment on less than perfect credit.
This won't be the quickest way to get a good apartment, but it will be the longest lasting. Getting a copy of your credit report allows you to see what the problems are with your credit. This allows you the opportunity to explain any problems you might have on your credit to a potential landlord. Perhaps, more importantly, you can also begin addressing trouble spots on your credit. Write letters to resolve issues that might not belong on your credit report and start paying down old debts to reverse the damage done to your credit score. It might not help you get the apartment this time, but it will in the future.
For now, talk to your future landlord from an informed position. Particularly at smaller rentals not owned by larger companies, your knowledge of your financial problems can impress your way into a great apartment.
Cosigners are people who sign a lease with you, making themselves legally responsible for the costs associated with an apartment. This can give your landlord a little more confidence about renting to you. Find a friend or family member with better credit and see if they will sign a lease with you. Cosigning is something best avoided if possible, but many landlords have no trouble renting to people with bad credit, provided that someone with good credit is willing to cosign the lease.
Another tactic to get an apartment when your credit is less than perfect is to offer a larger deposit. Many states set limits on how much a landlord can demand as a deposit. Still, offering something over and above the standard deposit can make your landlord feel more at ease. In the worst case scenario, they've at least recouped more of their losses. Further, it shows that you're serious. You're not promising more money in the future. You're offering money in the here and now, putting a bit more of your skin on the lease than with the standard deposit. It will be harder for you to walk away from the deposit the larger it is and your landlord will know that.
As a last resort, look for apartments that do not perform a credit check. Credit checks are par for the course when it comes to larger corporate apartments. Many small-time, mom-and-pop landlords don't require them. It's an added expense and hassle that they don't want to deal with. You might be worried that you won't be able to get a good apartment if you only look for places that don't do credit checks. While it might make your search a little more difficult, you'll be surprised at what you can find even among rental properties that do not require a credit check.
You might be looking for a new apartment right now. However, you should always have a long-term plan to repair your credit. This will allow you to get car loans, mortgages and even apartment rentals easier. Think not about the apartment you're trying to get right now, but about the apartment you'll be looking at a year or two down the line. A benefit of fixing your credit problems is that many rental properties ask for smaller deposits from renters with outstanding credit.
Nicholas Pell is a freelance writer for MintLife based out of Hollywood, CA. He talked his landlord out of a double deposit.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.