Can I Rent Without a Co-Signer?

Independent landlords and companies that own large apartment complexes set their own standards for determining whether renters need a co-signer. So, it's difficult to determine in advance if you need a co-signer. Asking someone to co-sign for you is a big request because that person will have to pay your rent if you don't. Sometimes you can avoid getting a co-signer by bargaining with landlords or apartment managers and exceeding their expectations.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Applicants that have good credit scores and can prove adequate income won't need a co-signer to rent.

Credit and Rental Histories

Couples who are renting for the first time and don't have a long credit history may need a co-signer to rent an apartment. Apartment hunters who have late payments, collection accounts or a bankruptcy on their credit reports often need co-signers as well. That's also true for renters who get bad references from previous landlords, particularly if a landlord evicted them. Some independent landlords who own small apartment complexes have less stringent credit requirements than managers who run large apartment communities and may not require a co-signer.

Current Income Requirements

Apartment managers and landlords look at whether couples earn enough income to make timely rental payments. If they don't, the landlord may require a co-signer to lease an apartment. Landlords often want renters to have a rent-to-income ratio of one-to-three, according to Nolo. That means your rent can't take up more than one-third of your income. Nolo recommends not spending more than 25 to 35 percent of your take-home pay on rent each month. Add up your other monthly debts to determine how much you can comfortably spend on rent before you go apartment hunting.

Upfront Cash Offers

Money talks, and sometimes offering a landlord a larger security deposit will help you avoid getting a co-signer. If that doesn't work, offer to pay three to six months of rent in advance if you have the cash available to do so. Downsizing is another option if your income doesn't meet a landlord's requirements. Getting a smaller apartment may keep your monthly rental rate low enough to qualify for an apartment without a co-signer.

Allowing Automatic Deductions

Allowing automatic deductions from your bank account to cover your rent may help persuade a landlord to rent to you without a co-signer. Be prepared to prove that you have a steady job if you make this proposal. You may have to show a landlord a few weeks of pay stubs or an employment verification letter. Landlords typically call a rental applicant’s workplace to verify employment, as well.

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