MoneyLife

No Rental History: Steps to Land Your First Rental

By Anna Yen

Are you on the hunt for an apartment as a first-time renter? Are you worried about getting approved because you have no rental history? In the months leading up to getting your own place, working on essentials such as building credit and health money management habits can give you the upper hand. However, even if you have personal references and proof of income for an apartment in hand, some landlords may turn you away. 

But there are still ways to prove you’d be a worthy tenant.  

How to rent with no rental history

As a newly independent adult, one of the first big hurdles you’ll face is how to get an apartment with no rental history. Fortunately, nabbing the perfect pad can be done – with a little foresight.  

Prepare your credit

Having no credit or rental history might put you at the bottom of the prospect list. If this is you, it’s time to establish your credit history with a Credit Builder loan. For only $19.99 per month, a Credit Builder PlusSM membership can help plump up your credit history with:

  •  No hard credit checks1
  • Regular reports to three major credit bureaus
  • Competitive-rate installment loans with 12-month payback periods

After boosting your credit with a Credit Builder membership, you’ll be ready to take the next step: applying for your rental.2  

Resolve any credit history issues

Are your student loans in default?

You may think this question has nothing to do with renting an apartment – and you’d be wrong. Student loans, car loans, personal loans, and other types of debt can be bad when they impact your credit report. 

While it’s not impossible to get an apartment with bad credit, it’s rare to find no rental history check apartments. Thus, you should take the time to correct negative marks on your credit report before you apply. You may need to pay down your debts, build a regular deposit history, or create a budget. 

And if you’re not sure where to start, a RoarMoneySM account can help. The MoneyLion app includes the Financial Heartbeat® tool and spend tracker reports can help you monitor your budget! Plus, you can access other features, such as 0% APR InstacashSM

Look for flexible landlords

When it comes to renting, larger apartment complexes typically have stricter tenant requirements. Hiring a real estate agent to help you find a landlord who’s not as firm on rental history can help you navigate your options. You can also broaden your prospects to include homeowners renting out a spare room, loft, or garage. You may find you like living with a roommate – or even a family of roommates! 

Provide supporting documents 

One step you can take to prove you’re a worthy first-time renter is to provide data upfront – before your potential landlord runs an all-inclusive credit check. Of course, you’ll want to bring proof of income and personal references for an apartment manager to review. You also may want to include other evidence of eligibility, such as:

  • Credit reports
  • Bank statements
  • Employer verification

Ask someone to co-sign

You may have heard of loan cosigners – perhaps you’ve even co-signed (or had someone cosign for you) before. But did you know that you can also get a co-signer on an apartment lease?

Co-signing for an apartment is similar to guaranteeing a loan. Your cosigner is not required to live in the apartment, but they do have to put their name on the lease. And, if you can’t pay your rent, they’ll have to cough up the dough – or face a potential lawsuit as your co-defendant. 

But if you’re generally responsible with money and have the income to pay your rent, tapping a trusted family member or friend can improve your odds of being approved. 

Get a roommate

If you can’t find someone to co-sign your apartment, it’s always possible to find a roommate, instead. After all, two people with supporting documents are better than one! (Bonus points if they have a good rental history.) 

Start by asking family or friends if they’d be interested in bunking with you for a few months. Or you can check out roommate-finding sites such as Roommates.com or Roomster.  

Pay more upfront

Instead of living with a roommate, another option is to save your salary and offer your potential landlord three to six months’ rent upfront. By guaranteeing payment immediately, you prove you’re a responsible tenant, despite having no rental history. 

With MoneyLion RoarMoney cashback rewards, you can earn cash back everyday on purchases to save toward your goals.3 What better way to save for your future apartment without even trying?

Skip renting and buy

Renting isn’t for everyone, and for some individuals, buying a home makes more financial sense. Thus, if all else fails, you can talk to family or friends about living at home until you can improve your credit score and stash away cash toward a down payment. 

Final Thoughts on Getting an Apartment with No Rental History

While getting approved for an apartment with no credit check or rental history isn’t impossible, it does require some foresight and future planning. By preparing your credit, hunting for the right landlord (and maybe a roommate), and gathering your documents, you can set yourself up for success. And once you have your supporting financial documents in hand, file your return at 1040.com. For only $25, you can maximize your refund this tax season and put that money toward renting your new home.

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