If a landlord or rental company isn’t sure about you (or even if they are, but they have a set of guidelines to follow), they’ll require you to co-sign your lease with someone else, to verify that they’ll always get their monthly payment. This essentially means your co-signer has to agree that if you don’t pay up, then they will or risk damaging their own credit.
Whether you’d rather not be dependent on another person or you don’t feel comfortable asking your friends or family members for that kind of favor, here’s how to rent without a co-signer.
Have Good Credit
We know, we know —easier said than done. Still, for a lot of landlords, this will be the deciding factor in whether or not they’ll let you rent without a co-signer, so it has to be gotten out of the way. If you don’t have any negative marks in your payment history and haven’t declared bankruptcy, then you’re in luck! Many landlords will see a strong credit score as proof that you’re responsible and can be trusted to make payments on time. If that’s not the case for you, there are a few websites and services out there that will help you through the process of patching up a less-than-great credit report. With a few months and a bit of dedication, you might have better luck in this department.
Find a Private Landlord
Rather than dealing with an employee of a large rental company, who has a company policy to follow and a boss to report back to, you’ll find a bit more flexibility with individuals looking to rent out their own property for some extra income. This doesn’t mean they won’t have their own requirements, but most of the time, you can be more casual with a private landlord. This will make the process of convincing them to let you rent without a co-signer more painless than it would be with a bigger company. You can find people like this by scrolling through the housing ads on websites like Craigslist, or even ditching the internet and taking a glance at the classifieds in your local newspaper.
Show Them the Money
Most of the time, if a landlord wants you to have a co-signer, it’s because they’re anxious about not getting the rent on time (or at all). You can sometimes get around this by showing them proof that you’re good for the agreed upon monthly payment. Some places might ask you to pay a larger deposit or fork over a few months’ rent in advance —three to six is customary. If that seems like a lot or is just flat out infeasible, showing them bank statements or proof of steady employment might make them come around. A letter from your current employer probably wouldn’t hurt either, which brings us to…
You can show prospective landlords that you’re a good tenant by getting other people to back you up. If you have a good history with previous landlords or roommates, then you can give your new landlords their contact information to verify that you’re as good as your word. Some people even put together renter resume packets with the names and contact info of former roommates, bosses, and the like to give out when they go apartment-hunting. Just make sure that if you’re using someone for a reference, you clear it with them first!
If you search the listings long enough, you can probably find someone who’s got a lease of their own, but are either looking to rent out their apartment while they’re away for a while or need a roommate to help out with the rent. Either way, this means that you’ll be dealing with a fellow tenant, rather than the owner of property. So they’ll technically still be responsible for the rent, but you pay your share directly to them each month. If this sounds a little too much like asking someone to co-sign with you, consider that you and the person you sublease from have a common need (an affordable place to stay) that you help each other fulfill —so it’s not quite the same as asking a friend or relative to co-sign as a favor.
Finding an apartment you can rent without a co-signer can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Even if your credit or employment history is a little questionable, there are steps you can take to get your new place, and the responsibility of paying for it, all to yourself.
If all goes well, don’t forget your pets and how they affect your choice of apartment; here are tips you need for moving with a dog.