Let’s face it, the rental market is tight.
It can feel nearly impossible to land the perfect apartment without having flawless credit, excellent rental history, and a great rental resume.
Thankfully, there are options for renters who have no credit or don’t have a high credit score. Having a trusted cosigner with good credit can give your rental application the boost it needs, and while you are renting there are ways you can increase your credit score so the next time you need to rent you can meet the application requirements without assistance.
1. Track Your Score
There’s a reason for the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” and it certainly rings true for many people when it comes to financial goals. If you are not actively keeping track of your credit score, it can be much easier to let small things slide without noting its impact on your overall credit status. You’re entitled to one of each of your three credit bureau reports (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) for free every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com. To become an active participant in ensuring that your credit is good by utilizing a free credit service to monitor any changes to your score. This will make you more cautious about decisions that could harm your credit and will ensure that you are not surprised by an unseen issue down the road.
2. Report Rent Payments to Credit Bureaus
Did you know that landlords have the ability to report your rental payments to credit bureaus? One of the smartest ways to boost your credit while you are renting is to request that your landlord report your on-time rent payments. Your rent is likely your largest monthly bill, and if you’re actively seeking a higher credit score, it’s a no-brainer to find a way to ensure that this counts to show your overall financial responsibility. This is also a great solution to building (or starting) your credit without taking on more debt. Companies like Pinch, and RentTrack and others, use your online payment systems to track and report your rent payments to the right credit bureaus.
3. Pay Bills On Time
This might seem obvious, but nothing will help your score more than consistently paying those simple month-to-month payments, and doing so on time. Sure, it may not feel as exciting as finally paying off a big debt, but regular monthly bill payments are big contributors to your credit score. If you’re bad about paying bills, that will damage your credit. Keep in mind that this is even true for items that you may not associate with credit reporting, like overdue library books. “If the original “creditor,” such as the library, doesn’t report to the bureaus, they may eventually call in a collections agency for an unpaid bill. That agency could very well list the item on your credit report,” according to Bankrate.com.
4. Budget Well
You will be hard-pressed to pay your bills and your rent regularly and on time if you are not properly budgeting. The first step is to ensure that when you rent, you’re not attempting to live above your means, and that translates to more than simply brown bagging your lunches. Experts agree that only 30% of your gross income should be going to rent each month (often landlords or property managers will list this an income requirement in order to be approved for a rental.) If your rent has increased, or your dream rental is a bit out of your budget, there are circumstances in which a good tenant might have more negotiation power. In the end, it’s wisest to opt for a smaller rental or a roommate situation, if necessary, you don’t want to be in a situation that you cannot financially handle.
Keeping track of your credit score is an important part of presenting yourself as an excellent renter. Whether you’re still trying to land your dream apartment or currently renting and saving for a home, there’s no doubt that your credit score will be a huge boon–or a large source of stress–during your future housing search.