How to Get a Rental With No Rental History

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Renting your first apartment can be an exhilarating process. But, like most things, it comes with an application process that can be challenging if you do not have a rental history. Most landlords examine your rental history to determine if you’ll be a desirable tenant. While a lack of rental history can be challenging, you can overcome this challenge. 

What is rental history?

Rental history shows how reliable you can be as a tenant. It is similar to how your credit score reveals your borrowing and repayment history. Landlords typically seek to rent to tenants with a history of paying rent on time. A positive rental history helps reduce a landlord’s risk and makes them more comfortable approving your application. 

Why is rental history important?

Rental history helps landlords determine the quality of prospective tenants so they can try to prevent bad experiences, including renting to tenants who don’t pay their rent or damage property. It is time-consuming and costly to evict a tenant, and landlords try to avoid renting to tenants who behave irresponsibly. Strong rental history could make you more appealing and possibly get more favorable rental term offers.

Landing your first rental with no rental history

It is possible to land a rental unit even if you have no rental history. You can use several strategies to help land your first rental with no rental history.

Build your credit

If you have no rental history, landlords may focus on your credit history. Raising your credit score may make your application look more appealing to landlords. One of the  ways to help increase your credit score is to make on-time payments for all your bills.

Applicants with low credit scores can help raise them with a credit builder loan. Credit builder loans are offered at most financial institutions and are a great way to help boost your credit. You apply for a small loan amount, typically no more than $1,000. Some credit builder loans will not do a credit check, which is helpful if you have no or poor credit. 

Resolve credit history issues

Your payment history accounts for a large portion of your credit score. Debt could hurt your credit score if you fall behind on payments. Raising your credit score before applying may put you in a better position to get accepted for a rental. In addition, you should think about paying off any outstanding credit card debt and establish a budget to avoid future debt.

Find a flexible landlord

Some landlords have more relaxed requirements than others. For example, larger apartment complexes often have stricter requirements, but you may find more flexibility in a privately owned rental. 

A real estate agent may be able to help you navigate available choices and find a landlord that is right for your situation. Flexibility with square footage and amenities could also expand your pool of potential landlords. 

Get reputable sources as your references

Landlords may ask for references before giving you the keys. While some landlords like to hear from other landlords, that’s impossible if you have no rental history. Getting reputable sources as references is an excellent way to strengthen your case. 

Applicants with no rental history could ask their boss or manager for a personal reference letter. You can include this letter in your rental application to help increase your chances of getting a unit.

Provide supporting documentation 

Landlords may ask for supporting documents to better understand how you might manage the rent payments. You might be asked to submit documents like these with your application:

  • Proof of income
  • References
  • Credit reports
  • Bank statements
  • Employer verification

Each document highlights what landlords typically look for, such as your ability to make payments and your payment history. These items can give your future landlord an idea of your payment history and insight into how you make your payments. 

Find a cosigner

Cosigners — in the form of a roommate or another willing relative or friend — could help you get a rental unit. You can leverage the cosigner’s credit and rental history to help get approved for a rental unit. Landlords may feel more comfortable with a high-credit cosigner. That’s because the cosigner is also responsible for rent payments if you can’t keep up. The cosigner doesn’t typically benefit from this deal but incurs the risk if you fail to make payments. However, if you know someone who is willing to co-sign, it can make it easier to rent a place with no rental history.  

Get a roommate

You can join forces with a friend and become roommates. Submitting applications together may improve your chances if you and your roommate each provide a source of income. Two incomes could help reduce the risk of falling behind. You can ask friends if they want to live with you for a few months or years in your desired location. Aspiring tenants can browse roommate-finding sites such as Roommates.com or Roomster to get help. It’s a nice bonus if your roommate has a good rental history.

Pay more upfront

Landlords typically want to lower their risk with every tenant. Paying several months of rent upfront could show them you’re serious about paying rent on time. You could save enough money to cover 3 to 6 months of rent. Paying for 3 to 6 months of rent upfront allows you to accumulate more funds before the next payment.

Renting without rental history 

Though it might seem intimidating at first, renting without rental history is possible. Make sure your credit is good and present as many positive references as you can find. Consider using a private landlord as opposed to larger companies until you can demonstrate a positive rental history. 

FAQ

Can you buy a house without rental history?

Yes, it is possible to buy a house without rental history. Buying and renting are separate experiences, and a limited rental history does not typically play a part in your ability to get approved for a mortgage.

Do you need rental history to buy a house?

Having rental history is not necessary for buying a house. Mortgage lenders typically do not look at it when considering your application.

How to get an apartment with bad rental history?

If you have a bad rental history, consider providing references, boosting or maintaining your credit, finding a co-signer, or using a private landlord to get an apartment. It may not be guaranteed, but it can help prove to your new landlord that you are less risky.

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