7 ways you can get an apartment without credit as an adult

Learn how to get an apartment with no credit, from finding roommates and guarantors for your lease to subletting and where to look for apartments.


5 minute read
12 Jun 2024

Whether moving from abroad or living on your own for the first time, renting an apartment with no credit history is difficult. Yet, it’s possible. You can take many steps to help yourself, like finding roommates, a co-signer, or renting from a private landlord. To help you with the process, we’ve broken down how to get an apartment without credit and answered any questions you might have.

How to get an apartment without credit

The most important thing if you want to rent an apartment in the US without credit, is to be honest with the landlord. The owner or rental agency will run a credit check on you, so they’ll find out your credit history. But how do you convince them that you're the right tenant despite not having a credit score? Let’s break down the 7 ways you can get an apartment with no credit.

1. Pay a few months’ worth of rent in advance

Offering the landlord to cover the first 2-3 months' rent can be a great incentive for them to choose you. This way, you show you can cover the rent, and the landlord doesn’t have to worry about payments. If you decide to do this, make sure you have documented how much you’ve paid.

You can also offer a higher security deposit rather than pre-paying rent. However, some states, like New York and California, have strict laws about how much security deposit landlords can charge. It should always be equal to 1 month’s rent. So, if you’re exploring homes for rent in New York City or LA, it’s better to try and pay a few months of rent upfront.

2. Find a roommate with a good credit score

Finding a roommate or roommates with a great credit score is the best way to rent an apartment without credit. As both of you sign the lease, landlords often feel more confident about your financial reliability because of your roommate(s) strong credit standing.

Another option is to find an apartment where somebody already living and become roommates with them. While you'll still undergo a credit check, the fact that the other person is already established in the property and holds the lease might sway the landlord to approve your move-in. Plus, sharing space with roommates helps with rent and bills and opens doors to forming meaningful connections in your new living environment.

3. Provide rental references

Providing your prospective landlord with rental or personal references is a great way to show that you’re a trusted tenant. Ideally, these references will be from prior landlords, but if you’re a first-time renter, you can ask your teachers, professors, or employers to write you a letter vouching for your character. These references show that you’re a responsible and trustworthy tenant who can cover their rent on time.

4. Focus on smaller apartment buildings and rent from private landlords

A great way to get your first apartment at 18 or 35 when you’ve no credit score is to apartments directly from the owners. Owners often have more flexibility and might be more understanding to people without a credit history.

You can look for listings on Craigslist and Facebook groups. However, this can make you more susceptible to rental scams. Using trusted platforms like HousingAnywhere is more reliable as you can be sure you're renting from a verified landlord. You can also check out our guide on avoiding online rental scams to learn how to spot fake listings.

5. Try subletting an apartment

You can also sublet an apartment while you’re building your credit history. So, rather than renting an apartment, you can take over someone’s room while they’re away. The subletter continues to be the main tenant on the contract, and you either transfer the rent to them or directly to the landlord. Landlords can be agreeable to these conditions, as they have the main tenant as the guarantee that the rent is covered.

For those of you moving from abroad to the US, subletting an apartment might not be an option. In most cases, visas and resident permits require foreigners to have a permanent address to register. Subletting doesn’t always give you these options, especially if you need a rental agreement, as you aren’t directly renting through a landlord or property management firm.

6. Provide proof of income and savings

You can provide proof of income or savings to cover the rent. Landlords are more agreeable to renting out a property if they see you have a strong stream of income through your job or investments. Usually, landlords will ask for the last 3 payslips, which you can get from your employer.

If you have a good amount of savings, you can also provide bank statements showing the balance in your account. As a rule of thumb, having 3 times the rent in savings is a good amount to show prospective landlords. This will calm concerns about your ability to pay rent, as you have the amount ready.

7. Find a co-signer/guarantor with a good credit score

Similarly to having a roommate, finding a co-signer of your lease with a good credit score is a way to guarantee the landlord that you’re a reliable tenant. By co-signing the lease, this person agrees to cover your rent if you can’t.

You can choose between having a guarantee who only signs the contract with you or a co-signer who signs the contract and has the same rights to the property as you.

This bears a lot of responsibilities regarding your lease, so if you can’t get someone to sign with you, you can hire a guarantor. These companies co-sign the lease with you for a fee and are usually available in the bigger US cities like NYC and LA. You can find them online or have one recommended to you by the landlord.

Keep in mind that if the company has to pay your rent, your credit score will be affected negatively.

How to rent an apartment without credit FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions and additional information on getting an apartment with no credit.

Do you need credit to rent an apartment?

Yes, to rent an apartment in the US, you need to have a credit history. Generally, you need a credit score higher than 695 to be considered by most landlords. But in some cases, you can get around not having credit by providing additional information like references, bank statements, and proof of income.

Can I rent if I don’t have a credit score?

Yes, but it’s not as straightforward as renting with a credit score. Your credit score shows potential landlords that you’re a reliable tenant. They can trust you with renting the apartment as your credit history shows you’ve been able to cover rent or other expenses in the past.

When you don’t have a credit score, the prospective landlords don’t have a guarantee that you’ll be able to cover your rent. You can still rent, but you’ll need to provide a different form of guarantee, like paying a higher security deposit or finding a co-signer to the lease who will cover the rent if you can’t.

Does renting an apartment build credit?

Yes, renting an apartment helps you build credit if you pay your full rent on time. You can sign up for rent-reporting services like Self, Boom, Piñata, and Rental Karma. Depending on their terms, these services report your credit history to one or more credit bureaus and can even deduct the rent from your account and transfer it to your landlord.

Some services, like Esusu and Azibo, are available only if your landlord is signed up for them. Those require your landlord to verify that your payments are on time and report this to the credit bureaus.

Signing up for any of them costs between $10 and $100, depending on whether you have a monthly fee or an annual subscription.

Can you get an apartment with a credit score of 500?

The preferred credit score for renters is above 620, giving you a better chance of being approved for an apartment. Yet, with a credit score of 500, you can still find a nice place to live, especially if you find a roommate or co-signer of the lease. If your credit score is 500, make sure you also provide proof of income or savings to further show you’re a reliable tenant.

This article is for informational purposes only.

Please reach out to content@housinganywhere.com if you have any suggestions or questions about the content on this page.

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