How to Get an Apartment with Bad Credit

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That’s a word you never want to hear when applying for an apartment. Unfortunately, many landlords have stringent qualification criteria that can make it tough to get approved for a unit. 

The good news is you don’t have to let a poor credit score prevent you from finding a place to live. Read on for some tips to help you get an apartment with bad credit. 

Tips for Getting Approved with Bad Credit 

Be honest 

Transparency is paramount when attempting to rent an apartment with bad credit. Let the property manager know that you’ve had credit challenges in the past but recently turned over a new leaf. They may be willing to overlook your credit score and approve your application if you have a viable reason for the credit mishaps. 

Rectify credit issues 

If you have some time before you have to move, grab a copy of your credit report from the 3 credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. They’re available for free from

Review all the items on your report and file disputes to have inaccurate or untimely information removed. It could be dragging down your score and preventing you from getting approved for an apartment. 

Our partner Dovly can help! Dovly’s credit repair solution is simple, transparent, and can make a major impact on your score – 92% of customers experience a 54-point increase in just 6 months. 

By automatically disputing the mistakes with all three credit bureaus, monitoring your credit, and updating your score, Dovly takes action to make sure your report is accurate and your score is climbing.

Offer a larger deposit

Ask the landlord if they’re willing to accept a higher security deposit. This helps minimize their financial losses if you break the lease. You can also ask to prepay a few months of rent before you move in to demonstrate that you are a financially responsible and trustworthy future tenant. 

Try private landlords

Often, you will find that private landlords aren’t as stringent as corporate entities that operate large apartment complexes. Some require credit checks, while others only request a security deposit. Before you apply, ask what they’re looking for in a tenant. If credit checks aren’t required, no need to disclose your credit woes.

But if they are, speak with the landlord to plead your case. By communicating that your finances are now back on track and offering a higher deposit (if needed), they may approve your application. 

Move outside of the city

Apartments in prime locations within the city limits tend to be more selective. The owners and landlords know that there’s more competition, and some aren’t willing to risk renting to those with shaky credit. On the other hand, the demand for apartments in the suburbs may not be as high, and you can find properties that aren’t quite as difficult to get approved for. 

Get a co-signer

Do you have a close friend or relative with pristine credit? Ask them to co-sign the lease with you. Assuming the co-signer meets the eligibility criteria set forth by the landlord, you shouldn’t have trouble getting approved. 

Be mindful that the co-signer will be on the hook for any missed payments, late fees or other penalties. If you break the lease and refuse to pay or are evicted from the apartment, their credit will also take a hit. So, this option should only be used as a last resort. 

Provide reference letters

If this isn’t your first time renting an apartment, reach out to past landlords and ask that they write reference letters on your behalf. The letter should communicate that you made timely payments while occupying their property. Hand over copies of the letters to your prospective landlords to strengthen your application. 

Unable to get a reference letter? Ask your past landlords to provide you with a document that details your rental history and use this instead. 

What Credit Score Do Landlords Look For? 

It depends. Some landlords require a minimum credit score of 620. That number could be much higher or even lower, depending on the neighborhood and demand. 

The only way to know what credit score you need to get approved is to ask. Or you can find properties with landlords that don’t conduct credit checks. Check online on networks like Craigslist,, or ask people in your network if they know anyone who’s renting an apartment. 

Start Rebuilding Your Credit 

If you’ve been ignoring your bad credit, now’s the perfect time to give your credit health a boost. As mentioned earlier, you want to start by disputing any errors or untimely information to have it removed. Also, take another look at your credit reports to see what’s hurting you and focus on those problem areas.  

Apply for a Credit Builder Loan

Another easy way to start repairing your credit is the Credit Builder Plus Loan from MoneyLion. It’s a low-cost loan product that gives you up to $1,000 right away and helps improve your payment history when you make timely payments each month. 

Best of all, there are no credit checks. And automatic payments are deducted from your account, so you won’t have to keep up with due dates. 

Unlock this loan product for only $19.99 per month. The Credit Builder Plus membership from MoneyLion also includes 0% Instacash cash advances of up to $250 and credit tracking with weekly score updates.

See if you qualify for a credit builder loan.

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