If you have no credit history, you might be worried about scoring a rental apartment. It’s an understandable concern––almost everyone you’ll rent from will want to know about your credit history. But if you’re a student or have other reasons for not building credit, you can still rent an apartment with no or bad credit history. 

We’re here to give you our best tips on how to rent an apartment with no credit history. Really, it’s a mix of having the right documents, knowing how to explain your situation, and negotiating your lease. Let’s dive into more detail.

Renting with No Credit History Can Be Easier from a Landlord vs a Property Manager

Make sure you look at rental apartments which are owned by individual landlords rather than property managers. Individual landlords are more likely to cut you a little slack as long as you’re able to prove to them in other ways that you’re a good tenant. Property managers are more likely to just move on to the next applicant and pick the most credentialed one. Therefore, renting from an individual landlord will probably save you some wasted applications. Our next few tips will help you explain to your potential landlord what your situation is, with proof to back it up.

Be Honest and Explain Why You Don’t Have a Good Credit History

The most important thing is to be honest and straightforward about your situation. Be proactive––if you’re filling out a rental application, attach a letter explaining why you have no credit history. If you can explain things on a phone call or face-to-face with your potential landlord, even better. Just ensure that they understand what’s going on before they try to pull your credit records.

Have Personal References Ready

With no credit history, there are alternative ways you can prove to a potential landlord that you’re a reliable tenant. Attaching some references to your rental application could help your case a lot. These don’t have to be from previous landlords or roommates if you don’t have any. Your former or current supervisors will make good references, too, because they can attest to the fact that you’re trustworthy and timely.

keys to rental home

Offer a Larger Security Deposit

It might also help if you offer a larger security deposit up front, perhaps something equivalent to a few months’ rent. This will show a potential landlord that you’re prepared to invest in this rental home, even with no credit. It will also offer them some security if things go wrong. And remember, this isn’t just money down the drain––there are lots of ways to get your security deposit back at the end of your lease.

Offer to Move in Right Away

Unrented rental apartments are wasted money for landlords. They still have to pay the bills on these units even though no one’s living in them. That means they’ll be eager to have someone move in. If you offer to move in right away, you could save a potential landlord money, and they know that. This will also help to show a potential landlord that you’re serious about wanting the rental apartment and are willing to commit.

Discuss the Length of the Lease

12 months is a typical lease, but it’s not the only option. If your potential landlord is uncomfortable with this length of time given that you have no credit history, you could suggest a shorter lease. It could even be a month-by-month situation. Just talk out your options together, and perhaps you can find a length of time you’re both comfortable with. At the end of that time, you could revisit the matter, and decide whether you should move out or renew your lease.

Get a Roommate with a Good Credit History

One or more roommates with good credit can help your case, too. That way, if your potential landlord is hung up on the issue, they know they’ll be renting to at least one person with a good credit history. We have some tips on how to find a roommate, too, and how to rent with a roommate

Get a Co-Signer

As a last resort, you could get a co-signer. This could be a friend or relative with solid credit who will sign your lease with you, to back you up. They’ll be on the hook if you don’t pay your bill, so you want to ask someone who trusts you and is fully aware of your situation.

We hope that you feel more confident in the hunt for a rental apartment now that you’re armed with these tips. Go get that rental! We’re behind you all the way.

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