Can a Bad Credit Score Prevent Me From Renting an Apartment?

Can a Bad Credit Score Prevent Me From Renting an Apartment?
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Like many questions related to real estate, whether you will be accepted for a certain property might depend on your credit score. However, your credit score might not have any effect on your ability to rent an apartment. The answer depends on the characteristics of the apartment complex, your credit information and additional criteria.

Importance Of Credit Scores

Most landlords are not going to know potential apartment tenants on a personal level. A credit score provides an objective standard on which to compare potential renters and shows how they have handled money and responsibilities in the past. Credit scores are commonly evaluated by landlords to determine whether they qualify for a property. According to, most landlords look for a credit score of 670 or above.

Property Factors

Not all landlords use credit scores to qualify renters. Smaller apartment complexes are less likely to check credit than large apartment management groups, according to a 2011 article on MSN Real Estate. If the apartment complex has many vacancies, landlords might be willing to gloss over a bad credit score. Similarly, when more renters are demanding properties, the landlords have more options and might have more stringent guidelines.

Credit Information

Whether your bad credit will affect your rental ability also depends on the circumstances surrounding the score. Some landlords might be willing to rent to an applicant whose credit was ruined because of divorce, an illness or temporary job loss. Additionally, different property managers look at situations from a different perspective. For example, a 2010 article noted a Boise, Idaho, property management company that does not view foreclosures as a negative, considering previous homeowners as better at maintaining units. You also have the right to add a 100-word statement to your credit file to address low scores, something that might sway a potential landlord.

Applicant Information

Landlords know that credit scores are only one piece of information. They will also likely look at an applicant's gross income and his employment history. Even if you have bad credit, if you show that you have a high income in a secure industry, a landlord might still approve your application. Having a reference letter from an employer or your former landlord can also swing things in your favor.

Additional Criteria

A landlord might accept your application even if you have bad credit, but he might impose additional criteria. For example, you might be required to get a co-signer for the unit. Alternatively, you might be required to pay a larger security deposit.

Increasing Your Odds

Taking some extra precautions might tilt the scales in your favor. For example, you can offer to have your rent deducted automatically from your bank account each month. You might also start with a short-term lease to prove that you are reliable. Moving into a unit that is already occupied by a roommate can give you a chance to impress the landlord with timely payments and responsible living.