Here’s an excellent guide you can use to increase your chances of finding and eventually renting a great apartment, regardless of having poor credit.
Here in Vegas, the rental market is BOOMING. If you have a decent house to rent, there is no shortage of people who want to rent it. So as a landlord you can pick and choose who you will rent your house to. And yes, people with better credit scores will take priority over people with poor credit scores because the landlord doesn’t know YOU or your story. They only see a number(s) that come back from pulling your credit. If you know your score is low, its up to you to make the landlords aware of why you would make a great tenant.
First, you want to get the latest copies of your annual credit report.
This way, you can determine what your credit score really is. At the same time, you can check whether or not there are errors or anything on it that you may be able to get removed before you put in your application. You also want to make sure if you are rebuilding your credit, that all new lines of credit are being reported.
When you look at your credit reports, pull all 3. Most of the time you will find your score will differ depending on the credit reporting agency. Look for the following:
- Evictions – this is the kiss of death when you are apartment shopping. If you were evicted for a reason that wasn’t just because you stopped paying, I would visit the apartment you want to move into first and talk to the manager BEFORE putting in an application. Set up an appointment to talk to them, bring in proof of why the eviction wasn’t your fault and proof of why you would make an excellent tenant. Even offer to put down a bigger security deposit.
- Collection accounts – are they paid? If not, can you pay them off or add a written dispute statement to your credit report before you submit your application
- Charged off accounts – if they are old and you can deal directly with the creditor, you maybe able to work out a settlement that is for pennies on the dollar and have them either remove it from your credit report or change the status to settled.
- Inaccurate information – If you find something that doesn’t belong to you or is being reported incorrectly, first contact the company that is reporting it. Tell them its a mistake and request proof that it was YOU and not someone with a similar name. If they insist that its you and won’t remove it, then contact the agencies that are reporting it and dispute. I’m sometimes a little weary of sending companies I’ve never done business with proof like my drivers license or anything like that. I don’t know what they will do with it. I would rather supply that to the credit bureaus directly.
Once your done fixing everything you can on your credit report, the credit reporting agencies should send you a new and updated credit report. If you paid for the score, it should be included but not always. You may have to go online and request another credit report with score.
A Roommate maybe your ticket into that dream apartment
If you have done everything you can to get your score up to acceptable levels and its still considered low. Don’t just give up on your dream apartment. Ideally you probably want to live in this apartment by yourself. But if having a roommate helps you get into the apartment, don’t you think it might be worth it? Especially a roommate with good credit?
Make a substantial down-payment to your chosen landlord or landlady.
If you make really good money and can afford it. Offering to put down several months rent as security can help make a landlord feel more secure in renting you the apartment. Keep in mind most of these landlords are just people who are looking for someone to cover the mortgage on the property for them. They don’t want to worry about you not paying.
Most places require, first, last, cleaning and pet deposit. If you have bad credit offer them 3 – 6 months of the rent up front! Money will often turn a NO to a YES YES YES!
Be the kind of tenant landlords want
If you are currently renting from someone, even if its just a room, ask for a written reference. Having another landlord talk about how they will miss having a great tenant like you will go far in giving your prospective landlord piece of mind. If you have been at your current place only a short time, make sure you have references going back several years.
Before you apply to your new place, call your old landlords. Remind them of who you are and tell them you are putting them down as a reference and you would appreciate them telling them about what a great tenant you were!
Ask for a close friend or a relative to co-sign your application.
I list looking for a co-signer last because thats becoming harder to do. With more and more people becoming more aware of how credit works. Finding a friend of family member willing to co-sign for your apartment may prove to be difficult.
Ideally you want your co-signer to be very credit worthy (credit score over 680) with a very stable job. If its someone who is retired, you want to show they have a stable income. The landlord will be looking for them to pay the rent if you are late or unable to pay.