If you're someone with a low credit score, you've probably been scared away from the idea of renting a home for a while. You'll always hear that renters require a good credit score, so you might just believe that it'll never happen for you. But people with low credit don't have to stay put forever. Here are a few tips for renting a home even if you have a low credit score.
1. Work On Your Credit
If this isn't an emergency situation, there might be plenty of time for you to work on your credit score before making a move. Whether you're paying off student loans or an overdrawn credit card, now is the time to make a plan for improving your credit score. There are services you can sign up for that will report any regular payments you make (phone bill, streaming services, utilities, etc.) to the bank to improve your credit. Another quick way to start improving your credit is by associating yourself with an established credit account. You can do this by signing up for a secured credit card, or by joining the account of someone with good credit. Some have had good results by applying for credit building loans, but this obviously requires you to make payments on time so it will have to be budgeted for. In addition to these tips, you should be paying any loans and bills you have on time. It can be tough to take an honest look at your finances if you're in debt or behind on payments, but it's worth it in the end.
2. Get a Co-Signer
For those with poor credit, it might be enough to have a cosigner with good credit on your lease to secure an apartment or rented home. A co-signer is someone who is essentially making the promise to your landlord that they'll be able to pay the rent for you if you are unable. This makes the landlord more likely to give you the lease, even if your credit history is poor. Of course, this can cause issues down the road if your co-signer is unable or unwilling to assist you, or if you require assistance too frequently. The best approach is to have a solid plan in place in the event that you can't pay rent and to have an agreement in writing about how you'll handle the situation. Another way to get a co-signer with good credit is by getting a roommate. A handy tip is to have the landlord check your roommate's credit first, so they'll be more likely to give you a lease even if your credit is unideal.
3. Proof of Income
If you have a stable job and do well with your finances, in spite of your bad credit, it might be worthwhile to show your landlord proof of income to increase your appearance as a trustworthy tenant. You can provide pay stubs for the last year or so to really drive home that you're a gainfully employed person. You can also offer to pay a larger security deposit or several months of rent upfront, as proof that you have the funds on hand.
4. Character References
Just because you have poor credit does not mean you're an irresponsible person or unable to handle regular payments, and there are probably people in your life who can attest to that. Whether it's a former boss, landlord, or business associate, you may be able to get someone to write a character reference for you to send to a potential landlord. Their word about your character, combined with other points of reference, could be enough to overcome your poor credit and land you that lease.
Having bad credit can sometimes feel like the end of the world, but it doesn't have to be. Use these tips to find alternative approaches to finding a home and becoming a more financially responsible adult.