Don’t give up renting a decent place before trying these options to help with approval.

minute read


Has your rental application been denied by an apartment complex or landlord? Maybe you’re afraid to turn in an application at all because you fear that poor credit will slam the door on your chances for approval.

If so, don’t be too hard on yourself for overdue payments, loan defaults, or other factors that contributed to your less-than-desirable credit score. With time and effort, you can repair your credit. Meanwhile, however, you need a place to live.

So, how can you convince an apartment manager or landlord that you’ll be a tenant who pays on time? Click or swipe for 8 strategies to improve your chances of landing the keys to a new apartment.

1. Know where you stand

Before you begin shopping for an apartment to rent, get a free copy of your credit report from That way, you’ll know what your credit score is, ways to improve the rating, and areas that could raise a red flag to potential landlords.

Don’t dive into a review of your credit report without knowing how to make sense of the information. You can find plenty of online resources explaining how to understand your credit report.

Find out: 7 Ways Fixing Bad Credit can Change Your Life

2. Be honest about your credit

If an apartment complex or landlord plans to run a background and credit check before approving you as a tenant, get ahead of the situation by being upfront about your low credit score or payment history issues on your credit report.

Then assure the landlord that you have since learned important financial lessons and are working hard to rebuild your credit.

Find out: 8 Big Renting Myths Landlords and Tenants Believe

3. Offer alternate proof of payment history

If you’re trying to rent an apartment before you have an adequate credit history or you have a spotty payment history on your credit report, don’t despair. Instead, present alternate evidence that you pay your bills on time.

Options for proof of financial responsibility could include cell phone and utilities history. If you’re haunted by poor payment history with a creditor that you’ve since paid, try to obtain a letter from that creditor stating that you paid the debt in full or stuck to an arranged payment plan.

4. Show that you have savings as a backup

Even if you’re impatient to rent a new place, try to save at least $1,000 in a savings account before applying. Having designated savings for emergencies shows a potential landlord that you have a better chance of covering rent when you have unexpected expenses.

Go into the rental situation with the expectation that when you live on your own, it’s a matter of when – not if – you have an unexpected expense. Having emergency savings will help you cover the rent and help protect that credit score you’re trying to improve.

5. Pass on big complexes

Your chances of renting without the potential landlord running a credit check may be better with a private owner. Depending on the city or town in which you live, you may be able to find an apartment in a smaller building, a house split into apartments or a duplex.

6. Get a cosigner

If your credit score is blocking the path to a new apartment, ask the apartment manager if you could rent if you have a cosigner on the lease who can cover rent if you can’t pay. For instance, maybe one of your parents would agree to be a cosigner on the lease.

Be careful with this method, however. If you lose your job or can’t pay the rent for another reason, you may damage the relationship with the cosigner temporarily or irreparably.

7. Get a roommate with good credit

How about that coworker with excellent credit? Is she looking for a place to live? If so, having a roommate with good credit on the lease can improve your chances for approval.

However, don’t choose a roommate on credit score alone. You want to be just as picky about the person you live with as the landlord is when it comes to choosing tenants.

8. Pay more upfront

If a shaky payment history and poor credit score threaten to evict you from consideration, offer to pay a larger deposit or even a couple months’ rent in advance. Paying more can help the landlord feel more secure about getting paid on time should you struggle financially later.

Did we provide the information you needed? If not let us know and we’ll improve this page.
Let us know if you liked the post. That’s the only way we can improve.

About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by, LLC