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How do you rent an apartment if you have crappy or no credit and landlords keep saying no?

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As a reference, I just completed 20 years in apartment management in March 2005. Your situation is tough but not impossible. Most companies these days use third party agencies to develop rental credit scores, which have no direct comparison to credit bureau scores (usually referred to as beacon or fico). These other systems incorporate bureau scores, rental history, and court records (public information) to arrive at a score.
Management companies typically have input into what criteria is included as well as what final scores are acceptable, straight or conditional (extra deposits, shorter term leases, etc.) Ultimately, the quality of the community, the current occupancy rate, and the location of the property, combined, will dictate an often fluctuating policy. Your possibilities include:

  • State straight up that your credit score is bad, and offer to pay the maximum security deposit allowed by law in the state. Maryland for example is twice the rental rate agreed upon. Some management companies like United Dominion Realty Trust offer this option at almost all of their communities. Look them up on line and at udrt.com and then following the system through the looking for an apartment function. In addition, you may want to check allcreditrentals.com, which is the website featuring professionally listed apartment communities that helps people with low credits find the apartment they want.
  • Ask if you can have a trial 3 or 6 month lease at the typically higher short-term lease rate. Request the possibility of then converting to a years lease after proving your payment ability during the initial term. Some companies will do this when accompanied by a larger deposit, not necessarily the maximum allowable deposit in section 1 above.
  • Cosigners are accepted at many communities. Cosigners are usually required to have impeccable credit and significant incomes, because they are agreeing to cover your rent in addition to their own housing obligation should you default. Great credit implies that they won't let you damage their credit, thus covering the rent.
  • Finally, find a community that will allow you to be an occupant while someone else is the leaseholder. 50/50 chance. Many properties require anyone 18 or above to be a leaseholder which is not what you'd be looking to happen. The gray area on this approach is that the other person is supposed to be living in the apartment. Otherwise, they shift from the title "leaseholder" roommate to someone subleasing the apartment to you. Many apartments reject the latter. I can't suggest lying because if caught, the landlord will issue a notice to vacate.
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