No Credit Check Apartments: How to Rent an Apartment With No Credit History

There are a few major challenges in finding no credit check apartments. Weak credit history can not only make it harder for property managers to take you seriously, but it can also make it more difficult for you in a competitive rental market. While no credit check apartments do exist, it's best to not limit yourself, even if you know an uphill battle with property managers may ensue.

“Credit history plays a major role in securing many of the things you need for everyday life from lines of credit, utilities and even an apartment," said Nova Credit.

It's such a regular part of everyday life that it doesn't take long to begin establishing it. However, if you're ready to rent before you've got a credit history, there's a way.

How to rent an apartment with no credit

Property managers prefer you to have a credit history for more than just your credit score.

According to Self, “The two primary factors landlords look at are your past payment history and your current debt load." This means they want confirmation you pay your bills on time and that you have enough money to afford the rent each month.

While not having a credit history makes it harder to prove you're a worthwhile tenant to have, it's not impossible. Know going into the rental process that you aren't the first person trying to rent an apartment with no credit.

Consider these strategies to help convince a property manager you're a good tenant, even without the history to prove it.

1. Don't hide the truth

Two women talking at a table by a window.

Property managers are typically not big on surprises, so you don't want to catch them off guard. If you know, when you fill out a rental application, that your credit history is going to trigger some cautionary flags, get out in front of it.

Have a conversation with the property manager before they pull your credit report letting them know what they'll find. Explain the circumstances leading up to these blips, or lack of credit history, and avoid any surprises.

2. Enlist a co-signer

The No. 1 best way to land a great apartment without a credit history is to find yourself a really responsible co-signer. This is someone with great credit like a parent, older sibling, a close friend or other family members. Even if you do have some credit, property managers like to see co-signers for young renters because it gives them a safety net. If, for any reason, you can't pay your rent, your co-signer becomes liable.

Keep in mind that this legal responsibility could seriously hurt your co-signer's credit if you fail to stay current on your payments. Failure to pay entitles your property manager to file a lawsuit or even try to evict you.

Make sure you're not taking the support of your co-signer for granted. Have a plan in place should you need to rely on their help so they know you'll pay them back, and show your appreciation for the favor they're doing for you, making it possible to rent an apartment with no credit.

3. Find a roommate

Two women unpacking a box in an apartment.

Moving in with a roommate can help take the pressure off your credit history much like a co-signer can — as long as they have a good credit history themselves. If your combined income, and one person's credit history, meet your property manager's rental requirements, there's a good chance you'll get the apartment.

Again, when relying on the credit history of another, it's important to take the situation seriously. If you don't hold up your end of the rental agreement, their credit rating could get a major ding, not to mention it will mess with your friendship.

To protect you and your roommate, consider writing a thorough roommate agreement before moving in together.

4. Show financial proof

Having a steady income and solid finances are one way you can demonstrate to a property manager you're fit to rent that doesn't involve enlisting another person for help. Even without a history of whether or not you pay your bills on time, with a firm financial foundation, you can assuage any fears.

If you don't have a credit history, the next best way to show you're able to afford the rent each month is with sufficient income. This is especially important for no-credit-check apartments.

Generally, property managers want your income about three times more than the monthly rent. To prove your income, bring at least three month's worth of pay stubs. They not only show your regular income but also that you have a steady job.

Add to this documentation your last month's bank statement and information on any assets you may own. This all counts as money you can use to pay rent. The more you have in savings, the better a property manager will feel about not being able to review credit history.

5. Make an offer they can't refuse

A couple reviewing finances at a computer.

There are two ways you can appeal to a property manager without having to prove you're the perfect tenant. By playing to their weaknesses, you can make a big first impression.

  • Weakness #1: An unrented property is an expensive property. Even when an apartment is vacant, it's still costing a property manager money. Especially if the unit isn't in high demand, the longer it sits empty, the more it's going to cost them in mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes. Offer to move in immediately and stop your property manager from having to cover all these expenses out of pocket.
  • Weakness #2: Money equals security. If a property manager is hesitant about letting you sign the lease, offer to pay more upfront. Whether it's a larger security deposit or an extra month's rent, making this gesture without anyone asking shows you're serious about the apartment. It also shows you're responsible and have thought this through.

Using either of these strategies may work best when figuring out how to rent an apartment with no credit. You may make such a great impression that credit history doesn't even come up.

6. Promote yourself

Often, when applicants have a credit history, they'll attach a letter explaining any questionable parts. Property managers always appreciate the clarification.

If there's an understandable or legitimate reason you don't have a credit history, it can't hurt to explain it to them either. Especially if the reasons are out of your control, don't keep them to yourself.

Reiterate what you might have mentioned as you filled out your rental application with a formal write-up. Toss in a few reasons why you'd make a great tenant as well. Promote yourself when you already have their attention.

On the same note, don't feel uncomfortable asking for others to promote you, as well. Collect a few written references from employers, professors or teachers or even your family. These endorsements are a great way for property managers to get a feel for your dependability.

7. Inquire about a short-term lease

Two people reviewing a contract.

Though it's pretty standard, a 12-month lease is a major commitment for both the tenant and the property manager. For this reason, trust is a big factor when it comes to tenant selection, and trust is harder to establish without a credit history. As an alternative, try to negotiate for a short-term lease.

If that doesn't seem of interest to the property manager, ask about going month-to-month. This enables them to end the lease after just one month if they're not comfortable having you as a tenant. It also demonstrates your confidence in yourself as a renter, agreeing to such a risky arrangement.

Both of these options allow you to prove you're responsible while taking the stress off the property manager to give you a full-year lease. If all goes well, they can extend the lease, or change the terms, after you've proven you can handle it, just make sure you pay your rent on time or early.

8. Search for no credit check apartments

The alternative to worrying about your credit history, and how to prove you're a good tenant is to bypass the need for a credit check altogether. Independent or private property owners are often more flexible with applicants who don't have a credit history. These are individuals managing their own properties rather than going through a management company or condominium association.

The best way to find no credit check apartments is to look at specific listings. Is the contact an actual name or a company? You want to get to a person.

You can also look for listings outside the normal apartment finder websites. Those renting by owner might look to social media first to find a tenant rather than listing elsewhere.

When in doubt, word of mouth can make a great way to find a listing. Ask friends and family if they know of anything coming up where the owner might not worry too much about a lack of credit history. You could then use that person as a referral to help get in good.

How to improve your credit score

A couple at a laptop reviewing documents and looking for no credit check apartments

Even as you search listings and figure out a strategy for how to rent an apartment with no credit, you can actively work toward increasing your credit score. If you don't already have a credit card, apply for one. Start simple by asking your bank about opening a credit card with a low limit. This is a great way to build credit without risking a lot of debt.

You also want to make sure you only apply for credit cards as needed. This is not a 'more the merrier' scenario, since unnecessary credit can do more harm than good.

At the same time, don't close any credit cards you've already opened. Even if you're not using them anymore, as long as they aren't costing you anything in annual fees and you still only have a few different cards, keep them open.

If your credit history isn't great because of a large amount of debt, consider consolidating it with a debt consolidation loan. Even though this is another loan, you use it to pay off all your existing debt. This means the individual payments you make to cover your car, student loans and more are all merged into one payment, which can help.

If your debt centers around high credit card balances, you can consolidate those too with a balance transfer. That way you're only paying off one card each month rather than a bunch.

Once you've secured your apartment, make sure to pay all your bills on time. This includes utility bills, your cell phone bill and even your credit card bills. If you have any loans, paying those on time counts too. Believe it or not, all this helps boost your credit score and establishes a positive credit history.

Taking any or all of these steps can help improve your credit score, making it easier to rent down the road as well as make major purchases in the future.

Keep the future in mind with no credit check apartments

For those embarking on an apartment search for the first time, or if you simply don't have the best credit history, the process can feel stressful. Even though it's possible to figure out how to rent an apartment with no credit, be ready to put in some work. Make sure you have the right documentation available and the right support if necessary.

No credit isn't the end of the world when it comes to renting, but it's something to avoid dealing with more than once. For that reason, once you're in your first apartment, start thinking about how to improve your credit score for the next time around.

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Lesly GregoryLesly Gregory has over 15 years of marketing experience, ranging from community management to blogging to creating marketing collateral for a variety of industries. A graduate of Boston University, Lesly holds a B.S. in Journalism. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, three cats and assorted fish.

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