5 Tips for Renting a Home When Your Credit Is Poor

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If you have less-than-perfect credit, a rental property may still be within reach. Here's how to approach the problem.

If you’ve ever found yourself in search of a new place to live and your credit is less than perfect, you probably know it’s not easy.

It may be especially difficult right now, because in many U.S. cities, rental properties are in short supply, and demand is high. A tight market generally means the qualification criteria will be more stringent to weed out applicants.

But there are ways to persuade landlords to cut you some slack — if you know how to approach them.

First of all, think of it from the landlord’s perspective. If you have been late on utility bills, possess delinquent accounts or have faced wage garnishments in the past, they will be right to wonder if you will pay your rent on time.

Nonetheless, bad credit doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Here are a few tips that will help you pass inspection:

  • Be honest. If you know that the property manager will perform a credit check, beat him to the punch and lay everything on the table. When doing so, present letters of reference to prove your case from those you have dealt with in the past, such as landlords and employers. Also, direct the evaluator to the notes in your credit file to strengthen your case.
  • Offer to prepay rent. Still getting the side eye? Assuming you have a substantial amount of cash on hand, offer to beef up the security deposit or even prepay rent for the first and last month to indicate that you are serious about being a responsible tenant. You may also want to see if they are willing to grant you an approval if you enroll in automatic withdrawal.

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