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7 Tips to Rent an Apartment With no Credit

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updated: March 10, 2024

Renting an apartment without some established credit history can be a challenge. Most landlords will request a review of your credit report when you apply and base qualification—at least partially—on the listed data. If your file shows satisfied loans, consistent on-time payments, and little to no debt, it will indicate that you can manage money well and should be a responsible tenant.

Some landlords will check your full credit report, while others will only request your credit score, which is based on the information in your reports. According to myFico, a FICO® Score of 670 or higher is generally considered a good credit score.

Unfortunately, many people don’t have any credit history. This can include people who are young, new to the U.S., or who have avoided credit products for personal reasons. Whatever the case for you, you may be able to rent an apartment without having a credit history by using the following strategies.

How to Rent an Appartment if You Have No Credit

1. Provide proof of other bills you have paid on time

You know you will pay your rent on time, but if there’s nothing on a credit report to prove it, that may not be enough for a prospective landlord. The good news is that you can use other bills to demonstrate your good payment history besides loan and credit card payments.

For example, if you have been paying a cell phone or utility bill in your name for some time, offer to show those account statements to the landlord or property manager. It may be enough to get your foot in the door.

Another option is to use Experian’s free “Boost” program. When you enroll, you can have recurring expenses such as cell phone, utilities, and streaming subscription accounts added to your credit report. If you currently rent an apartment and pay your rent online, you can also provide that information.

A credit report will be generated in your name without applying for and using a loan or credit card. Once your credit report has been updated to reflect the information Experian Boost provided, you can show it to landlords. You can even get free credit monitoring through Experian.

2. Bring on a cosigner

Landlords want to ensure you will make the monthly rent payments on time and in full, not just now but into the future.

If you don’t have a credit report proving that you’ve been responsible with financial contracts, consider asking a trusted (and trusting) creditworthy person to cosign on the lease. This way, if anything goes wrong—such as nonpayment of rent—the landlord can turn to the person who cosigned for remittance.

Just be careful to pay on time. If not, you risk damaging your relationship with your cosigner. Use a budgeting app, such as YNAB, to manage your finances so you always know how much you have coming in and going out and can seamlessly plan for necessary expenses. You can learn more from our full review.

3. Find roommates

If you are open to sharing an apartment with someone else, consider going in with a roommate who has good credit. Your roommate's credit history and scores may be strong enough for the two of you. Generally, both of your names will be on the lease, but your roommate may be the primary leaseholder.

Arrangements vary, but you would usually pay your roommate your share of the rent, who will then pay the total amount to the landlord. In some circumstances, you will pay your portion directly to the landlord.

4. Ask your boss to vouch for you

Remember the landlord's top priority: that you can afford to make the payments and that you are financially responsible. For this reason, showing the landlord your pay stubs and a written recommendation from your employer can go a long way.

If you have a good relationship with your boss, ask them to write a letter explaining how valuable you are to the company and that you’ve been a terrific employee for several years.

5. Offer other personal and professional recommendations

You may also want to collect letters of recommendation from other influential people. If you have been living with other people up until now but have yet to be on the lease, ask them if they will explain that you are a great tenant. They can write that you always paid your rent and any other associated costs on time and that you were clean and easy to get along with.

If you had a business relationship with the landlord, their recommendation would be significant.

6. Look for apartments that do not require a credit check

Although it is common for landlords to check your credit when you apply for an apartment, some don’t. You may have better luck with an individual owner with just one property to rent. Explore possibilities on social media platforms and ask if anyone has any leads on apartments for rent that don’t demand credit checks.

Also, check out communities with a large population of college students, recent immigrants, or people with existing credit troubles. Landlords in these areas may be more lenient with applicants who don’t have a credit history.

7. Show them the money

Finally, you may be able to alleviate concerns about your financial capabilities by proposing a larger than necessary security deposit or by paying a fixed number of months’ rent in advance.

Of course, this won’t be an option when money is tight, but if you do have the means, it can be a way to inspire confidence.

TIME Stamp: There are ways around a lack of credit history when apartment hunting

As you can see, there are several ways to clear the hurdle of not having a credit history when you are in the apartment-hunting process. Remember, it will be easier if you have a credit report with positive information, so if you know you will soon be looking for a new home, it may be the ideal time to apply for a credit card and start using it regularly.

Even a few months of on-time payments can establish the financial behavior landlords want to see.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How can I rent an apartment in the US without a credit history?

Not all landlords require credit checks, so look for one that doesn’t. You can also increase your chances by showing evidence of other bills you pay on time, having the apartment co-signed by someone with good credit, joining in with a roommate, and getting recommendations from influential people.

Do you need credit for your first apartment?

No, but it helps. If you have the time to build your credit before apartment hunting, start as soon as possible.

What is the lowest credit score to rent an apartment?

There isn’t a specific score that you will need since all landlords are different. However, a FICO Score of 670 or higher will indicate that you are a creditworthy individual.

Can you pass a credit check with no credit history?

Credit checks involve pulling a person's credit reports and scores. You won’t have a credit score if there is no history on your credit report. To bypass the credit check, you may be able to offer other evidence you will be a responsible tenant.

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