This is how to get an apartment with bad credit (2024)

Discover how to rent an apartment with bad credit, from finding a guarantor to paying rent in advance, and more tips for renting with bad credit.


5 minute read
14 Jun 2024

The best way to get an apartment with bad credit in the US is to improve your credit score, which can take time. Meanwhile, you need to find an apartment to live in. So, what do you do then? Well, there are 4 ways you can rent an apartment with bad credit, and we've outlined them all for you. So, let's dive in and get you an apartment.

What is a bad credit score, and why does it matter?

Typically, credit scores are numbers between 300 and 850 that indicate your overall financial reliability. A bad credit score matters when looking for an apartment, as it shows the landlord how responsible you are as a renter. A bad credit score falls between 300 and 579. This can be a result from many things, including paying your bills late, lousy credit history, and current or past debts. Regardless of where your credit score falls, knowing the number is essential.

The lowest credit score to rent an apartment depends on the landlord or property manager. Still, typically, tenants with a credit score above 620 have a better chance of renting an apartment in the US.

You can check your credit score on and get a free and certified credit report.

How to rent an apartment with bad credit

Now that we've cleared what a bad credit score is, we need to find out how you can get an apartment. Here are the 4 main ways you can get an apartment with bad credit:

  • Find a co-signer or guarantor
  • Offer to cover the first few months of rent upfront
  • Live with a roommate
  • Find a no-credit-check apartment

Let's break them down and see what you need for each.

1. Find a co-signer or guarantor

The most common way to get an apartment with a bad credit score is to find a co-signer or a guarantee. This person commits to cover your rent or any damages caused by you during the tenancy if you can't. They should have a high credit score and be someone you trust, like a friend or a family member.

If you're taking this route, consider whether you're looking for a co-signer, someone whose signature is on the rental lease and has the same tenant rights as you, or a guarantee, someone who only bears the financial responsibility if you can't.

Another option is to hire a lease guarantor. These services are provided by a lease guarantor company that offers to co-sign your rental agreement and act as a guarantor. The property manager can recommend one for you, or you can look it up yourself. Application happens online by providing proof of ID, income, and employment.

Keep in mind that your credit score will worsen if the co-signing company has to cover your rent at any point.

Once you've found a lease guarantor services whose terms you agree with, you need to be approved by them before they co-sign or guarantee. Generally, the approval depends on reaching their minimum income requirment and having a decent credit score.

Prices vary depending on your credit history and rent amount, but they usually equal a month’s rent. You can split the costs with your roommate(s), as the contract includes the whole household.

Some of the more prominent names in the business are The Guarantors, Insurent, Leap, Rhino, and Liberty Rent. Unfortunately, most co-sign services are available only in larger cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.

2. Pay the first few months in advance or a higher security deposit

Another way to rent an apartment with bad credit is by pre-paying 2-3 months of rent at the time of signing the contract. It can incentivize the landlord to approve your rental application as it guarantees they will have rent covered for at least a few months.

Similarly, you can offer to pay a higher security deposit. You can offer to pay a security deposit equal to a month and a half or 2 months’ rent, which the landlord can use to cover any rent you can't pay. If you choose this, we advise you to keep proof showing that you’ve paid 2-3 months in advance or have a higher security deposit, which will be returned in full at the end of your lease.

Keep in mind that in some states like California, and New York, the security deposit laws state that a landlord can’t charge you more than one month’s rent as a deposit. So, this option might not be available to you if you're exploring homes for rent in New York City or Los Angeles.

3. Live with a roommate

Aside from splitting living costs, finding a roommate with a good credit score will increase your chances of being approved for an apartment. They should show they can cover the monthly rent in full if you can't pay your part. It’s preferable if they can show good credit and cover up to 3 times the rent if they have to.

4. Find a no-credit-check apartment

While a rarity, no-credit-check apartments do exist. Finding such an apartment can be more difficult, but it’s not impossible. There are several ways to find such an apartment:

  • Look on social media, like Facebook groups, or share on your profiles that you’re looking for an apartment. In the second case, you’ll likely be recommended by a friend or someone you know. The landlord is more likely to agree to a bad credit score or not to do a credit check.
  • Rent from a private landlord, as opposed to a property manager. Renting directly from an owner makes the process more flexible, as they choose the tenants and can overlook bad credit.
  • Look into monthly rentals, where your rental agreement with the landlord is on a monthly basis. This is usually the case with short-term leases. In such cases, keep in mind that both you and the landlord can quickly end the lease as there isn’t a fixed-term contract outlining a rental period.

More tips for renting an apartment with a bad credit score

  • Be transparent if you have bad credit: Your potential landlord or property manager will find out you don’t have a good credit history. Being upfront about it shows that you aren’t trying to hide this and increases your chances of getting a place.

  • Be proactive and present other ways of proving you’re a responsible tenant, by providing landlord references and proof that you’ve paid bills, rent, and credit installments on time.

  • Learn how to improve your credit score by paying bills on time, increasing your credit limit, or asking a friend with a good credit history to add you as an authorized user on their credit card (it adds their account to your credit report).

  • Check if there are any things in your credit history that you can dispute. You can do that by filling out an online form or mailing a letter to the Credit bureau that issued your report. The precise way depends on the bureau, so it’s always best to check their website for detailed information.

To sum it up, the easiest way to get an apartment with bad credit is to find a roommate. The most common way to rent an apartment with bad credit is by having someone you trust or hiring a lease guarantor agency guarantee. Regardless of your choice, there are plenty of ways to get an apartment even if you have bad credit. All you need to do is try.

This article is for informational purposes only.

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