Apartment Living BlogApartment Hunting › How to Rent an Apartment with Bad Credit

If you have poor credit, you may be worried about having your rental agreement rejected for a new apartment. It’s easy to feel ashamed or frustrated about bad credit, but you don’t need to worry quite so much. Here are your options for making yourself look like a good choice for the right apartment.


Be Honest and Know Your Credit Report

If you haven’t checked out your credit report recently, do so. Look for potential inaccuracies and get familiar with it, so there are no surprises when you go to discuss your credit report with potential landlords.

It’s usually best to be upfront about your situation, especially if you know for a fact that the property you wish to rent requires credit reports. The property managers and landlords you work with may appreciate your honesty, and want to know more about your situation, rather than just declining your application.


Pay Your Bills on Time

This is a surefire way to show improvement in your credit. It can take time for your credit score to improve, but if you are able to show you’re paying down your debt and paying bills on time, it can prove you’re making positive changes financially.

You may even want to print off copies of your credit history when you meet with property managers and landlords, so you can point out the positive changes you have made in your recent history.


Find Private Owners

A lot of corporate property owners have strict guidelines about credit, but privately owned apartments usually lack these same restrictions. They also may be more compassionate about your situation, since you can establish a more direct rapport with them. Make sure to dress professionally and act politely any time you meet with a private owner, because it can go a long way toward making a good impression.

Private owners and smaller companies may not require a credit check at all. You can always call different apartment complexes in your area and ask about their credit requirements.

Show Evidence of Job Security and Offer to Make Automatic Payments

Landlords deny people with bad credit because they worry that they will not be able to make their rent. If you are able to show that you have a steady income and job security, it could prove you’re worth the financial risk.

You can also offer to set up automatic payments, which means that your rent will be automatically deducted from your bank account, giving your landlord peace of mind.

Bring Good References

Most rental applications have an area for references; be sure to include past landlords you have a good relationship with on your application. If you are able to show you paid rent on time to a previous landlord, it will give your potential landlord a good idea of what to expect from you.

Make sure to touch base with anyone you plan to list as a reference and ask their permission before including them on your application. This will allow them to expect a call from your next landlord and be prepared to sing your praises.

Also consider asking for letters of recommendation from a past landlord and your employer. Letters allow for them to provide clear information about your payment history and job security.



Stay Within an Affordable Price Range

It might be tempting to look at luxury apartments or units at the top of the range for your budget, but you might be setting yourself up for failure.

Figure out what your monthly income is and try to ensure your rent makes up between 25-35% of that. This will ensure you’re able to make your bills, even if some other emergency comes up.


Offer Extra Motivation

You may want to consider upping your security deposit and offering to pay first and last month’s rent upfront. Even with a bad credit history, if you show you can offer money up front and have already shown you have a stable job and stable income, a landlord might be willing to overlook your credit history.

You can also try suggesting a short-term lease. This enables you to show you can pay your rent monthly, and decreases the risk for both you and your landlord if you find yourself unable to pay for one reason or another. If it all works out, then it’s time to Determine If You Need Renter’s Insurance.

About :

Amber is the Director of Content Marketing for ForRent.com and has been with the company since April 2007. In her role, Amber strategizes, executes and optimizes a content and social media plans across multiple channels and platforms. This includes blogs, social networks, video sharing sites, and other conversational media. She spends a great deal of time building relationships with consumers, social media influencers, and bloggers to generate awareness of the ForRent.com brands. In her free time, Amber loves running, #hashtags, and DIY projects.


  1. Me and my husband are moving from Oklahoma to the Volusia County are by years end.  We need pointers on renting or leading a studio apt as we are cutting back from a 2 rm house. We are semi-retiring as I am disabled and he will be seeking work once as settle in. His son and family live in Edgewater and have recommended new Smyrna beach. I like Deland and Orange. Any ideas are welcomed. Than you Yolanda and Robert.
    • Hi Yolanda,

      I rarely reply to these things, but happened to read your comment as I’m in the process of relocating away from Volusia County to the other side of the state. I’ve had fairly decent luck with rentals in this area. What I can tell you from life bing here and working on an industry close to the real estate profession is that New Smyrna is quite popular with snowbirds and while it’s a small rural-ish area, many of the nicer places are a bit pricier, so if your budget is slim I’d recommend checking places out carefully. I do know some folks who live at Lymestone Ranch in New Smyrna, and they love it.  Deland is a nice town, but is also a college town and is popular with Orlando commuters, so again, prices might reflect those things. I’m not too familiar with Orange City, so can’t advise re that area.  I hope this helps. My family members have enjoyed this area, and it has a lot to offer, however my work takes me elsewhere, and while I’ve liked it here I’m more of an urban creature, so feel like I’ll be happier in my new locale. Good luck to you both.

  2. Lloyd Hargens says:

     My problem is not bad credit, but lack of recent credit history. I have eschewed credit cards and credit purchases for years, and as a result, my credit reports reflect zeros across the board. Seemingly, this is undesirable, but the suggested “fixes” of incurring debt are not to my liking. I am a 72-year old retired professional with a fixed small, but adequate income, and a reasonable amount of savings. Surely there is a better option than going into debt to make me appear financially responsible. Your suggestions/comments would be appreciated. I suspect I am only one of many encountering this dilemma. 

    • Llyod, there are ways to build your credit without going into debt. Even keep ing a credit card that you use for things like gas and you pay the balance on a monthly basis is a quick (and low cost) opportunity to create credit and show consistency in payments which is what the credit companies want to see. There are a few things to consider when renting with little to no credit.

      1.) Rent from an owner instead of from a property manager
      2.) Show any proof you have of being responsible for a major and consistent bill
      3.) Show You have the funds or offer to pay a few months upfront
      4.) Offer to move in asap
      5.) Get A Co-signer
      6.) State Your Case
      7.) Provide Dependable References
      8.) Do A Short Term Lease
      9.) Get A Roommate

      Hope these help, Lloyd!

  3. Edward Cherry says:
    Hey how are you doing, my credit is pretty bad but I’m working on that but my biggest problem comes from the fact that I sign my name on a lease for a family member while I was in school in Arizona  and they didn’t pay the rent for 6 months and was soon evicted…the eviction in on my credit score but I want to know is there any advice on what to do when searching for a apartment and and see that on my score?
    • Ouch! Edward, I’m sure a lesson was learned in not doing that in the future. The bad news is that property managers will see this is an irresponsible move on your part. However, the good news is that if you explain or state your case to that potential property manager than they may be able to work with you. Most property management companies may ask for this to be cleared up first. If that’s the case, you need to do whatever you can to clear up the eviction and yes, that does include you paying out of pocket to take that off your report. They will usually take you to small claims court, and the judgment will show as a public record which will take seven years to come off. You can either look for apartments that do not require a credit/background check, write to your landlord or prepare to state your case.

  4. Donna T Hohlbaugh says:
    I’m looking for a 1 bd, 1 bath, w/older indoor cat. My income is some pension and disability from Social Security. Rebuilding credit. Have been in a relationship almost 7 yrs. moving due to his health issue. Before living with him I lived in Hillsboro County. Could use my landlord from then. I have personal references. I need to be moving in Nov. 1st.  I live in Clearwater but surrounding areas & possibility for Hillsboro County too.  Any suggestions? I’m over 55.
  5. Lisa Jourdan says:
    Thank you! This helps me more than you know!!!
  6. Joy Robinson says:
    I know my credit isn’t good but I do pay my rent on time. Can you give me a list of apartments (preferably 2bedrooms) that might not check my credit. I currently live in west end of Richmond Virginia
  7. Sharon Williams says:
    My husband and I are looking for a handicap acessible apartment or house in Kansas.

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