There was a time when cash was King. Everything was paid in cash, even your wages, and all too often there were some heavy discounts for anyone buying something with wads of green. If you wanted to rent an apartment, you rolled up, paid the deposit by a roll of greenbacks and you landlord dropped by every Friday to collect the rent – in cash. How times have changed!
In those days there wasn’t really any other choice for landlords to ask for payment, so getting to know the tenant by standing on the doorstep and waiting to be passed cash each week was pressure enough to get his money, but today there are a lot more options. As everything financial can be done automatically with no cash changing hands these days, there is a real possibility that a tenant in a property may not pay which then takes some time to sort out, all the time leaving the landlord with no income. Even if you have a decent salary and legitimate references, landlords need some kind of reassurance that you will pay the rent on time and that you are responsible enough to take care of the property. One of the main factors they rely on to make that kind of decision is your credit score.
By looking into your credit score they feel that they can get a good idea of how reliable you’ll be at paying on time, and what type of a renter you’ll be. To them it stands to reason that the higher the score, the higher calibre of the renter. It’s a harsh reality check, but a credit score can make or break your ability to rent an apartment. It may seem cold, but they have to make a decision based on something and there is very little independent information elsewhere to be had.
What is a good credit score for renting?
If your credit score is over 750 then you will have no trouble at all renting an apartment, in fact landlords will be falling over themselves to catch you as a tenant. If you’re over 650 points you’ll find you may be offered a range of incentives to sign up for an apartment with varying degrees of attractiveness, but under 650 – don’t expect any kind of welcome wagon to be rolled out in your honor. The lowest credit score they will consider is 620, so if you’re below that you’ll have some explaining to do.
A low credit score will not immediately disqualify you from renting, but it may mean that if there is competition for a home that you will be the one who loses out. It could also mean that if you have your heart set on a particular popular location you may not be able to rent in that area because the chances are there are other renters with a higher score than you. Remember a credit score is seen as a financial report card of your ability to pay and your ability to prioritize commitments. If you have had problems paying the bills you have had in the past a landlord may question your ability to pay again.
If your credit score is not ideal a prospective landlord may want to know why. If you have medical loans, student debt or consumer credit that you keep on top of they may be more willing to ignore the numbers and accept you as a tenant than if you have unpaid items, judgements, late payments or garnishments against your name. They are sure to send up a red flag.
If you’re working on your credit score and find the home you want, be sure that you really want it before you give the landlord permission to do a credit score. Each inquiry logged with your provider is noted and can work against you. It shows that you are ready to take on another major commitment which you may or may not be able to afford.