How to Rent a House with Bad Credit

A person’s credit score can be dependent on a lot of different factors, but few people realize that it is used by so many different businesses.  Credit scores can determine everything from if a person should qualify for a loan to if a person should qualify for a job. One of the things that a credit score can have a great impact on is a person’s ability to rent a house or an apartment.

Years ago, it was very common for people with poor credit scores to be instantly turned away when they went to apply for a rental unit. The logic of landlords at the time was that anyone who had defaulted on their bills would have a low credit score, and therefore anyone with a low credit score would have issues paying their rent.  In some cases, potential renters were turned away from  houses and apartments simply for having scores in the 600s. 

Today, however, a lot of landlords have changed their attitude about credit score, and prefer instead to look directly at the credit report. The collapse of the housing market and the economy has had the effect of producing a lot of potential renters with low credit scores, and a lot of new landlords who need to rent out their investment properties, and cannot afford to be as picky as they were in the past.  Today, it is very common to find landlords and property managers willing to rent to people with low credit scores as long as their credit reports meet certain conditions.

In general, most landlords will ignore a low credit score that has been caused by a recent foreclosure or short sale. Since so many new renters have a foreclosure or short sale in their recent history, the lower credit score produced by this is usually not an issue for a landlord as long as there are no other serious problems on the credit report. 

Additionally, many landlords are willing to consider the circumstances under which a potential renter came into their bad credit score. A renter who lost their job and was unable to pay their bills for a while will typically have a low credit score, but many landlords are willing consider such a person as a renter if they are able to show they have a new job that will allow them to make their rent every month.  In fact, most landlords are more interested in a person’s or family’s expected income than they are in the credit score.

A good credit score will certainly help a person or couple applying for a rental house or apartment, and some units in high-priced neighborhoods might still require a good credit score to move in. In general however, the credit score is not nearly as important as it used to be. If you’re a potential renter, try to get the landlord to focus on your most recent financial accomplishments, and you’ll probably find that you qualify for most rental units.