If you’ve ever needed a loan, you’ll know how important your credit score becomes. Your credit score is the financial indicator that tells banks and other creditors how good you have been with making on-time payments on your other bills.
Having a low credit score could make securing the apartment of your dreams a little more difficult but not impossible.
Here are eight things you can do to turn the odds in your favor.
First things first–know your current credit score. You can receive a free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Most credit card companies and apps like Credit Karma offer free access to your credit score.
Knowledge is power, so ID-ing misinformation or erroneous information early will help ensure it doesn’t adversely affect your credit score later. If you notice incorrect information or suspicious activity on your report, notify one of the credit agencies immediately. To learn more, check out this link.
Once you know your score, get to work improving it, especially if it’s at 499 or below. According to Experian, a fair score is between 601 – 660. It’s important to note that even if you move heaven and earth to get caught up on delinquent bills and remove incorrect information from your credit report, it may take time for the score to go up.
Don’t get discouraged–just keep up the good work. Once the numbers in your score start trending upward, be sure to preserve your score by limiting the number of credit inquiries you receive, avoiding delinquent payments, and using cash when you can instead of using credit cards.
Some properties don’t require stellar credit scores in order to secure a lease. Of course, the ones that don’t consider credit scores may also not be in the best neighborhoods or have luxury amenities. Consider your housing needs and, if these types of perks don’t matter to you, research available rentals that don’t require that tenants have higher credit scores.
Sometimes having someone vouch for your character is enough to secure a place, especially if you almost always pay your bills on time but have recently fallen on hard times. Ask your current or a previous landlord or maybe even a friend or member of your church to draft one for your that explains your overall character and your previous pay practices.
This is a practical solution when you need to secure a new place but have a credit score that disqualifies you. A roommate with a good credit score takes the pressure off you if yours isn’t, plus you’ll pay less in rent and utilities since you’re splitting the expense.
Getting a roommate who matches your values might be tough to find. It may be worth your while to find someone with a good credit score who would be willing to co-sign your lease. It would save you from the trouble of accommodating someone and you would not be obliged to share your private space with someone. But you run the risk of that person being hit with your rental expenses and any late payment penalties if you can’t pay.
When everything fails, money finds a way. You may luck up and find a landlord who’ll accept your rental application on the condition that you pay a higher rent amount or pay a higher security deposit.
Don’t try to hide a low credit score from potential landlords and property managers or try to “fudge the numbers.” When the landlord or property manager finds out (and they undoubtedly will find out), chances are your application will be declined immediately. Just tell them the truth, no matter how ugly you perceive it to be, and allow him or them to tell you whether they think renting to you is an acceptable risk.
Don’t get disheartened if your credit score isn’t as high as it should be. With a little hard work and a lot of patience, you can still land that dream apartment!
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