Can You Rent an Apartment When You Have Bad Credit?

Looking for a great place to live when you have less than perfect credit? Don’t despair. Finding an apartment or rental home when you have bad credit can be worrisome but it’s not impossible. Be aware that you might need to do more than the typical applicant. There are several ways you can get that apartment or home rental - that you want - by just following a few suggested tips.

Rent apartment with bad credit

10 Tips for Getting Approved for an Apartment, Even if You Have Bad Credit

  1. Look at smaller unit buildings versus apartment buildings
    Most apartment building owners will have stricter standards for all applicants. However, landlords with single or smaller units might be more flexible. Consider smaller unit or single unit buildings before you go apply with the big apartment buildings. Oftentimes, these smaller unit buildings are owned and managed by an individual which gives you an opportunity to tell your story and show your creditworthiness while building trust.

Here are some places where you could find smaller unit buildings that may be inclined to approve renters with bad credit:

    • Check Craigslist. However, beware of scammers. Never pay anyone in cash and never pay anyone without signing a contract.
    • Check “for rent” signs in front of individual homes, duplexes, and multi-family homes.
    • Look for postings in supermarkets, laundromats, and college campuses.
    • Look at community social media sites such as
    • Talk to friends or family members. The chances are someone knows a landlord who may have a vacancy. 
  1. Be willing to sign a lease with a double deposit
    If you have an eviction in the last five years or really bad credit, you will want to offer to pay a double deposit on your lease. Doing this will lessen the risk for the landlord and make them more likely to rent to you.

If you do not have the money for a double deposit, delay your application for a month or two while getting the funds.

  1. Provide a reference letter
    When you apply to rent an apartment, the landlord does not know you very well. Therefore, providing a reference that the landlord can contact will go a long way. The better the position or the reputation of the reference, the better. Here are some recommended people you should get for a reference letter:
    • A current employer
    • A former employer
    • A schoolteacher or professor
    • A former landlord
    • A law enforcement officer or an attorney

The reference should have contact information that will allow the landlord to verify all the information.

  1. Get a roommate or a co-signer
    Having a roommate will give you a second income that you can provide for your application. It will help that the second roommate has a full-time job and good credit. You could offer to pay for your roommate's application fee. 

Here are some tips for finding the ideal roommate to help you get approved:

    • Find a roommate with a good credit history
    • Make sure the roommate has no evictions
    • Be sure the roommate has a clean criminal background
    • If the roommate has a full-time job, then that could be a big plus
  1. Be upfront about your credit history
    Landlords want to rent to someone that is honest. Therefore, you should tell your landlord about your credit history before you apply. It will help if you show the landlord your credit report and walk through the problem areas while explaining the issue.

You can get a free copy of your credit report from The site allows you to get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once per year.

  1. Ask to set up automatic payments
    Setting up automatic payments to your landlord will help your chances of getting approved. Make sure that you will have the funds available in your account before the rent is due. You do not want to pay overdraft fees.
  1. Offer to pay more rent upfront
    If you have the money, offer to prepay three months’ rent, upfront, on a 12-month lease. Doing so might reduce the landlord's risk and show that you have the money to pay your rent. 
  1. Show off your pristine rental history (if you had no evictions)
    Sometimes your bad credit may come from credit cards, unpaid debt or medical bills. However, your rental history may otherwise be pristine. Therefore, you will want to show that you have always paid your rent on time.

You can demonstrate your pristine rental history by providing reference letters from your previous landlords. Make sure the reference letter states that you have never missed a rental payment.

  1. Find apartments that don’t require a credit check
    Some apartments don’t require credit checks. In these cases, you will have to show your proof of income to get approved. If you have a good paying job and bad credit, this option might be best.

The chances are that you will have to call around to find landlords that will not perform a credit check. Don’t get discouraged. The more places you check, the better your chances of finding the right rental with no credit check.

  1. Put yourself in the landlord's shoes
    Think like the landlord. What would make you comfortable renting to someone with bad credit? Consider the following tips when approaching a landlord.
    • Dress professionally
    • Be upfront about your credit
    • Provide letters of reference
    • Provide proof of employment
    • Offer to pay a double deposit

Most landlords are merely looking for someone who will pay on time and will not be a problem. If you can make the landlord comfortable with you, the higher the chances are that you will get the rental approved.

Getting your dream apartment with bad credit

Yes, you can find your next apartment rental with bad credit. Look at independent landlords, have letters of reference, and be honest about your credit, and you will improve your chances of getting approved.

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