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Trying to rent an apartment with bad credit can be difficult—and trying to do so with no credit may feel impossible since landlords typically require a credit check. But you may be able to rent an apartment without a credit score by showing steady income, getting a guarantor or cosigning with roommates.
Landlords run credit checks to ascertain how likely you'll be to pay rent on time and in full every month. You can take steps to increase your chances of approval by following these seven tips for renting an apartment with no credit.
1. Apply for a No-Credit-Check Apartment
While searching for an apartment, try entering a search term like "no credit check" to bring up apartments that don't pull your credit before considering your application. If you have no credit, these apartments may give you a better chance of approval.
However, not requiring a credit check may be used to lure renters into low-quality apartments and make them vulnerable to landlords looking to extract higher fees. Read over the lease agreement carefully to understand payment terms and ensure the lease is fair, and inspect the apartment for any safety concerns.
2. Rent From a Private Landlord
There can be more wiggle room when renting from a private landlord versus a large property management company. When you meet a private landlord for an apartment tour and application, you may be able to bring up important topics like the state of your finances and why you are a good candidate as a tenant despite your lack of credit history.
Word of mouth can help you find these apartments, which may be in buildings like duplexes or basement-style apartments in townhouses. Be sure to ask around and let your family and friends know to keep an eye out for any "For Rent" signs in your area.
3. Get a Guarantor
When you're struggling to find an apartment with no credit, a guarantor may help you secure a lease. A guarantor is someone who signs your lease, too, claiming responsibility for the rent if you fall behind. They do not, however, have any rights to move into the property.
When looking for a guarantor, first consider friends or family over the age of 21 with good credit. If no one is available or willing to serve as a guarantor, you can pay a service to act as your guarantor. Be prepared to pay them a fee of 4% to 10% of the rent, and carefully review the contract so that you understand all limitations and costs.
4. Cosign With Roommates
Similar to getting a guarantor, signing a lease with roommates who have good credit scores may be the ticket to renting an apartment. You'll all sign the lease and take responsibility for rent payments.
When searching for roommates, credit score is just one consideration: It's also important to make sure they currently have a steady income that will allow them to make rent payments on time every month. In addition to paying rent, you'll also all be responsible for utility and other bills, so finding a financially stable roommate is key.
5. Letters of Recommendation
If no one is available to act as a guarantor or cosigner, see if there is someone who would be able to write a letter of recommendation that you could attach to rental applications.
Ideally, this person would know some of your personal finance history and would be in a good position to discuss your financial prospects. An employer who could speak to the likelihood of your continued employment is one good option. Another is a previous landlord who can vouch for your responsibility in making timely rent payments.
6. Offer to Pay More Upfront
When all else fails, some cold, hard cash may do the trick. To help assuage the concerns of a landlord that your lack of a credit score may signal a risk, offer to pay more upfront if you are able. Consider adding to your first month, last month and security deposit with an extra month in cash.
You may also find that offering to pay a large amount of the lease term in cash ahead of time could help you save on your rent, but these negotiations will be dependent on your landlord's flexibility and your ability to provide the necessary cash.
7. Establish Credit With Experian GoTM
There are many reasons you may not have a credit file, including having recently turned 18, having never used credit or loans before, or having immigrated to the U.S. recently.
If so, using Experian Go may help you. Experian Go is a service that can help you create an Experian credit report and start the journey to a credit score. Simply download the Experian app and enroll in a free Experian membership to begin.
Not only are you able to create an Experian credit report via Experian Go, but you may also be immediately scoreable when you add eligible payment data with Experian Boost®ø.
Before You Sign Your Rental Contract
Figuring out how to rent an apartment with no credit can be stressful and make you extra eager to sign for the first possible apartment when you find it. But it's important to be cautious.
Avoid common scams like a fake landlord scheme that may require you to wire money or sign a contract before you even get to see the apartment in person. Falling for one of these scams could leave you with no apartment and out however much cash you provided.
By putting your best foot forward—and following some common-sense safety guidelines—you can find apartments to rent even with no credit with these seven tips.
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