Snagging an apartment is not as easy as it seems especially when you consider the screening process that most landlords put potential tenants through. For every apartment that you will try to rent, you will be asked about your financial information, including your credit score. If you have bad credit and you can’t find a willing guarantor to sign the lease with you, read on to find out how you can still rent the apartment you like.
How to get an apartment with bad credit and no cosigner? There are several approaches you can take when you have bad credit and a co-signer is not an option:
- Offer the property owner a higher security deposit
- Rent from an individual owner rather than a company
- Provide recommendations from previous landlords
- Bring along statements of good character from friends and employers
- Provide proof of reliable income
- Find a roommate with a better credit score
Securing an apartment is no easy task, more so if you have bad credit and you have no co-signer or you simply don’t want one. Do not worry too much though since there are other ways through which you can secure an apartment. Here are the alternative options you can explore:
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Alternative options for renting an apartment with bad credit and no co-signer
1. Use your decent rental history to your advantage
If your rental history shows that you got along well with previous landlords, then you might just be able to convince a potential landlord despite having bad credit and lacking a co-signer. A rental history is basically your past rental arrangements, and it usually includes former addresses, the amount you paid for rent and other expenses and if they were paid on time, how long you occupied each unit and whether there were any evictions and the contact information of the property managers.
Although an entirely positive rental history is ideal, a few negatives here and there that can be easily explained should not keep you from finding an apartment. Before you start your search for an apartment, consider pulling your rental history report so that you can analyze it and have an idea of its contents. It is inexpensive to acquire this report, and landlords will receive the same information on the report. When you obtain it, make sure that you go through it carefully to make sure that everything is accurate, and then come up with valid explanations for any red flags that may be on the report.
2. References from previous landlords
If you were previously a cooperative tenant, you can get former landlords to vouch for you. You can obtain a reference letter from them, although in some cases a simple phone call from a potential landlord to a former one suffices. Some of the things a landlord may expect from a reference include:
- If the rent was paid on time and in full. This helps the landlord gauge how dependable you are.
- If you inflicted any damage to the property you occupied
- How you communicated with the landlord regarding various issues
- If they would recommend you as a tenant
- If there were any complaints raised by former neighbors
3. Provide proof of a sufficient and reliable income
If you have a well-paying job, you may be able to get away with having bad credit as long as you provide proof of your earnings. In order to verify your income, a landlord will require the following documentation:
- Pay stubs – A pay stub typically provides details on your earnings, and it may be in electric or printed form. A pay stub includes information such as the employee name, pay period and date, hours worked, gross pay, deductions, and net pay. It should indicate your year to date earnings. Ensure that you bring along pay stubs from the last two or three months. You can get these documents from your employer or online.
- Tax returns – You can provide your tax returns as secondary proof of your income. Landlords typically require your tax returns from the past two years. Obtain your tax returns online, from your account, or from the IRS.
4. Show proof of savings in your bank account
If you are self-employed, you can show your bank statements since you don’t have an actual pay stub. Ensure that you request two of the most recent bank statements from your local bank for your landlord to refer to during the screening process.
Additionally, you can file form 4506-T with the IRS to request a transcript for your tax returns in order to adequately back up your financial claims. This form typically takes only one business day to arrive, so you don’t have to worry about delays.
5. Rent from a private property owner
Try your best to avoid company-owned apartment complexes and focus on owner-rented property. It is generally easier to deal with a private landlord rather than a representative from a rental company. This is because private owners are more likely to be flexible when it comes to issues with your credit as compared to representatives who are required to follow a company policy. This does not mean that private landlords won’t have their own stipulations, but more often than not, they are more lenient.
Instead of beating around the bush regarding your bad credit, choose to be upfront with potential landlords. Give valid reasons for your less-than-desirable credit score, and explain how you intend to be a dependable tenant despite your credit history. Make sure that you provide reasons for renting without a co-signer as well.
6. Pay more money to the landlord upfront
When you neither have an outstanding credit score nor a co-signer, you can prove your capabilities as a tenant by offering to pay a larger security deposit or rent in advance. Offer to pay an amount that is equivalent to six months’ rent in order to make your rental application more attractive. A potential landlord may consider this to be an indication of your reliability when it comes to making future payments, and it may just be what you need to set you apart from the competition.
7. Provide statements of good character
Other than references from previous landlords, you can also provide statements of good character from your old roommates or close friends. In addition to this, request your employer to write a letter that details your income and also states that you are a reliable employee. Just ensure that you inform the people you are using for reference and clear with them since they will be receiving calls or emails from potential landlords.
8. Move in with a roommate or two
Another viable option is moving into an already occupied apartment where the tenant has a lease of their own. This way, you will be dealing with your roommate directly rather than the property owner. Technically, your roommate will be responsible for paying for the rent and bills, but you will be paying your share directly to them on a monthly basis. In most cases, you will be able to move in without a credit check, and as long as you hand over the required amount for expenses and you are an easygoing roommate, you should be fine.
9. Expand your search criteria
Consider looking at apartments outside your target area that are not too strict on requirements such as a good credit score or the need for a cosigner. Avoid popular areas where the competition for rental units is high and the requirements are endless. You are more likely to find an apartment that does not require a credit check or a cosigner and at relatively cheaper rates.
10. Show any unusual sources of income
If you are in between jobs and you don’t have a cosigner, you can present a potential landlord with any unusual income you may have that proves you can comfortably pay rent. This income may be in the form of alimony, income tax refunds, child support, disability benefits, or any other reliable source.
- How can I get an apartment if I just turned 18 and have no credit history? One of the most common solutions to lacking a credit history when apartment hunting is getting a co-signer. This is could be a parent, a close friend, or a relative who has a steady income and decent credit. You could also move in with a roommate who has already established their credit or offer to pay a higher security deposit upfront to prove that you will be a reliable tenant.
- What are the risks of being a lease co-signer? By being a rent guarantor you are legally bound to take care of the monthly expenses when the tenant you co-sign for is unable to make the payments on time. Additionally, depending on far behind the payments the tenant has fallen, your credit score could take a big blow. Remember that you are also responsible for any roommates that the tenant may have. This means that if they miss payments or inflict any damage on the property, you will have to part with your hard earned cash.