Credit guidelines for renting an apartment vary depending on the community and property manager. A monthly income of three to four times the rent and a FICO score of 680 to 700 are considered ideal, but minor credit problems won't necessarily keep you out of the apartment of your dreams, says Rent Money.com. Even in situations of no credit or poor credit, alternatives exist to enable you to rent, according to Home Buying Guides.
Credit Importance Varies
Credit guidelines typically include credit scores and rent-to-income ratios, but the weight of credit varies. Some landlords have strict credit requirements, while some don't check credit at all, according to Rent Money.com. Some landlords are flexible and sympathetic, especially when presented with an explanation for poor scores, such as job loss or divorce, says Money Crashers. In some communities, you may be in a bidding war in which good credit scores lose to great ones, according to My First Apartment.com.
If you fear your credit score is too low, shop around. Independent landlords or renters who want to sublet their apartments may be more flexible than large apartment communities who screen everyone, says My First Apartment.com. If you apply for apartments, check the policies regarding application fees and deposits to be sure you'll get most of your money back should your application be denied, says Rent Money.com.
If your credit falls short, you may still have alternatives. Landlords want to know that you are responsible and can pay the rent. If your monthly income is four or more times the rent and you can prove it with pay stubs, this may help. You might also include references from employers or former landlords. A shorter-term lease, such as six months, might give you an opportunity to prove you are reliable. Paying a larger deposit, as long as this is allowed in your state, is another option, according to Home Buying Guides.
If other alternatives fail, you might suggest a guarantor, suggests My First Apartment.com. A guarantor is another adult, perhaps a parent or longtime friend, who can vouch for you. If nothing else works, room with someone else while fixing your credit. When you're ready to move out, obtain documentation of your payment history from your roommate, suggests Home Buying Guides.
Randi Hicks Rowe is a former journalist, public relations professional and executive in a Fortune 500 company, and currently a formation minister in the Episcopal Church. She has been published in Security Management, American Indian Report and Tech Republic.She has a bachelor's in communications, a master of arts in Christian education and a master of business administration.