How to Rent an Apartment with Bad Credit


Don’t let one financial mistake stop you from renting your dream apartment

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Having bad credit score (below 650) is not the best situation to be in on so many levels because a credit score determines how responsible you are with money.

This would normally discourage people from going out to find apartments but there are ways to work around it.

In my experience, it’s bad to assume that all landlords would require the same thing. To some landlords, you could be the perfect tenant and to some others, you would have to go through the entire process of applying, viewing, background checks and pass all stages before they hand you the keys.


Our best tips for renting an apartment with bad credit:

  • Be honest about your situation

  • Get a cosigner

  • Ask for a referral from your previous landlord(s)

  • Offer to pay more rent

  • Prove that you are working towards being financially responsible

  • Have a stable source of income

  • Work with a real estate professional

  • Find a roommate


Be Honest About Your Situation

If you’re reaching out to potential landlords for viewing appointments, you must let them know about your credit situation. You don’t want to go through the process and end up not getting the apartment. Save both parties the time and be honest from the jump.

Related: How to Position Yourself as the Perfect Tenant

Get a Cosigner

Getting a co-signer is a great option. A family member is usually top of the list and some people even manage to convince their friends to cosign their lease. If you must use a cosigner, make sure their credit score is good (750 +) and they can afford to pay your rent after their own expenses.

Ask for a Recommendation from your Previous Landlords

Some potential landlords would like to know your rental history and reaching out to your former landlords to vouch for you and letting them know you paid your rent on time might be helpful.

Offer to Pay More Rent

If the landlord is asking for the first and last month’s rent upfront, offer to pay 3 months in advance. In some cities, it’s illegal to pay a lot of money upfront (some even frown at paying a full year’s rent upfront) so check what the regulations are concerning that wherever you live.

If possible, offer to pay a higher rent and you might get the apartment.

Prove that you are Working Towards Being Financially Responsible

We all make bad financial decisions sometimes, but the important thing is to work on changing the situation. Whether it’s paying your bills on time or getting credit counselling, work towards increasing your credit score and show your potential landlord that you’re being financially responsible

Have a Stable Source of Income

Credit is just one criteria that is used to make a rental decision. The other major piece is income. You must have a stable source of income that would cover your monthly rent. Sometimes, having enough income is enough to get the apartment as some landlords wouldn’t bother checking your credit.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Apartment Hunting

Work with a Professional

Use an experienced, professional and well-connected real estate broker. If you plan on going this route, be prepared to put down a higher deposit, and have a cosigner with great credit.

Not everyone can afford this service, so another option could be to do the apartment search on your own and stay away from leasing companies and apartment complexes. Instead, check rental platforms (I have some great recommendations here) to find private landlords that would be willing to accept your situation.

Find a Roommate

As a last resort, you could find someone to rent the apartment with (this person must have good credit). Having a roommate will save you some money that you can put towards paying off your debt and being more responsible with money.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Having a Roommate

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