Most apartment complexes now require a credit check before they'll accept a lease agreement with a new renter. Although some individuals who sublet homes or apartments might not require this, having good credit will make renting an apartment much easier. However, if you don't have good credit or simply don't have much of a credit history at all, there are still ways to go about renting an apartment.
Ideal Credit Score
Credit scores can range from 300 to 850, but 825 is typically the highest credit score a person can have. If your score is in the high 700s, you'll almost always be approved to rent an apartment. Complexes typically want a score of at least 685 to 700. If your credit score is below 620, you may have a tough time getting approved to rent an apartment.
Other Factors for Approval
Although a credit score of 620 or higher is a big factor in getting approved to rent an apartment, other factors are also considered. References from past landlords and employers, along with a history of always paying past rents on time, can make a big difference. Having sufficient income to pay the rent can also overcome a low credit score. If your rent-to-income ratio is 25 percent or better, you'll likely get approved. But if your rent is 40 percent or more of your income, you might have a tougher time.
If the Score Is Low
Having a low credit score doesn't mean that you can't still convince an apartment complex manager to accept you as a renter. However, you may need to make a few concessions in order to get approved. A cosigner with good credit is one way to get past a low credit score. The cosigner is responsible for the rent if you fail to pay. You can also offer to pay a larger deposit to cover the extra risk from your low credit score. Agreeing to a shorter-term lease or agreeing to have the rent automatically deducted from a checking account every month can also convince a wary landlord to accept your application.
If you have a low credit score, you should take a few steps to help alleviate the problem before filling out a rental application. Order a copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit reporting agencies and check to make sure that everything on the report is accurate. Sometimes misinformation can make a credit score lower than it should be. You can also write to the three major agencies -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- and request that a 100-word explanation be added to a particularly bad note in a credit report. Landlords will see this note when they run a credit report.
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.