When Credit Scores Affect Your Apartment Hunt

Bad credit keeping you from renting an apartment?  The use of credit scores to screen apartment applicants has become more and more prevalent.  And the timing couldn’t be worse for people who have been hit hardest by the prolonged recession.

Many people have lost their homes and must now turn to apartment living, but have found that the process of losing their home has damaged their credit score.

An article from U.S. News and World Report offers various strategies for procuring an apartment even if your credit score is less than perfect.
1.     Be the first to check your credit score.  In other words, before you begin your apt. search look up your credit score.  First look for inaccuracies.  If there are problems, make sure they are accurate.  Next, prepare a letter of explanation regarding your credit issue.  If you have 5 or 6 problems unrelated problems, you may have a tougher time, but if you have a couple of bad reports that were the result of one instance of job loss, or something similar, write a letter explaining what happened.  Ask the property manager if they are going to check your credit score.  If they are, give the letter beforehand.  If not, hold onto it.
2.    Be ready to pay a higher deposit.  You can offer a higher amount as a form of negotiation, or in some cases the manager may request it.  It may be the only way some companies will offer the apartment.
3.    The following recommendation is very hard to do.  Applying for an apartment that costs 35% of your income is ideal.  If you can reduce that number, that is beneficial to you.  The problem with that is, if we probably wouldn’t have a low credit score if rent made up only 25-30% of our income.  The only other suggestion is to look for an apartment that you might not love, but has the right price tag and stay there until you improve your credit rating.
4.    Gather recommendations from your employer.  A strong letter from your employer will go a long way to calming the fears of the manager of the apartment building.
5.    Use a co-signer.  Finding, then offering a co-signer as a way to procure the apartment will often do the trick.  It usually only works with larger management companies though.  Those with the technology to do automatic credits from your checking account.  But it’s a solid deal closer nonetheless.
6.    Smaller management companies.  The co-signer may not work with smaller companies, but smaller companies are generally much more flexible.  They can often bend some rules maybe, that larger companies can’t.
7.    Offer a short term lease.  Prove to the landlord that you’ll pay the rent.
8.    Be available to move in immediately.  The manager may be willing to take on some risk if you can move in right away, as opposed to having the apt. unrented for another month.

There are few people who have not been affected by the recession.  But, the effects on people regarding their housing situation is tragic.  If you know someone struggling with this, pass along this article and we hope that it helps.

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