Can I Get an Apartment with a 500 Credit Score?


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A bad credit score can ruin a lot of things. It can be difficult to get a mortgage, obtain a personal loan, or get student loans to continue your education. There are many more things that it can have an impact on but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. We specialize in credit repair and can help you get back on track.

One area where someone with a bad credit score can really struggle is in finding an apartment. Landlords will often look into your credit history to find out your reliability level when it comes to paying your bills.

Having a low credit score can dissuade a potential landlord from accepting you to rent their property. And when it comes to finding a place to live, you should not be limited by the level of your credit score.

Can I Get an Apartment with a 500 Credit Score?

Short answer: yes. But getting an apartment with a 500 credit score — one in a decent area, at least — can become a difficult endeavor with a score that low. As a matter of fact, only 4% of Americans have a credit score below 500 so that is very nearly the bottom of the barrel.

But getting an apartment with that low of a credit score is not impossible. The thing to keep in mind is that it will take a little extra work and persuasion to get the landlord to not only consider your application but allow you to rent from them.

The question is not about whether you can get an apartment with that low of a credit score but how to do it. So, how do you go about getting an apartment with a 500 credit score?

Focus on Your Income

Even if you have a bad credit score, there are ways to find a decent apartment despite it. One way to do so is to put a focus on your income. Generally speaking, if you can show that you have 40x your monthly rent in terms of yearly income, it may be enough to turn the tide in your favor.

For example, if your rent is $1200, you would need to have a yearly income of at least $48,000. Landlords may be able to overlook your credit history if you can show that you have significant income to make your monthly payments.

Proving your income can usually be done with your two most recent pay stubs. There are some landlords that will accept a tax return as well. But if you can prove that your income is substantial enough to offset your bad credit score, it may be enough to land the apartment that you have been looking for.

Show Off Your Savings

Let’s say that your annual income isn’t as high as it needs to be to sway a potential landlord. If you have substantial savings, though, that can act in the same vein. The goal is to show that you have the means to make your payments and make them on time.

If you have built up a few months worth of rent in your savings, this can be enough to show your potential landlord that you are good for the rent. It is important that you have three to four months worth of rent saved up if you hope to sway the landlord.

It is important to note that your credit may tell a story but it doesn’t tell the entire story. Having bad credit isn’t a good thing but it isn’t an automatic indictment of your responsibility and trustworthiness. Even if you do have a few months built up, it is important to pay your rent on time going forward so that you can maintain a positive rental history.

Speaking of…

Focus on a Positive Rental History

While landlords do tend to look at credit history, your rental history is one of the biggest factors in determining the approval of a potential tenant. Even if you have bad credit, a sterling rental history can sway the landlord to your cause.

If you have a good relationship with your past landlords, use them as references. Future landlords will tend to look favorably on positive remarks from other landlords.

Perhaps you are younger and haven’t had a chance to move out yet. You can try paying rent to your parents or whoever you are staying with as a means to establish a positive rental history. Have them provide receipts to show that you paid your rent on time each month.

The point here is that anything positive in your rental history can be enough to get a future landlord to overlook your credit score and accept you as a tenant, because people are more than their credit scores.

Pay More up Front

There are few things that speak to a landlord more than cash and offering to pay more up front is something that nearly every landlord will at least listen to. Generally, most landlords will require something such as the first month’s rent and a security deposit to be paid up front.

If you are trying hard to get an apartment and have the extra funds, offer more up front. Offer to pay the first two or three months up front; landlords will love having that kind of assurance from a future tenant. Just don’t forget to pay your rent on time after those first couple of months have passed.

When you have a bad credit score, it will cost you more in the long run but it doesn’t mean that getting an apartment is an impossibility. The key is to create reassurance for your potential landlord. Paying more up front illustrates that you are serious about renting their apartment and the extra money up front shows that you are less likely to do something to jeopardize that deposit.

Be Truthful

Lastly, try telling the truth. Having a bad credit score does not happen the same way for all of us. It also doesn’t automatically mean that you are irresponsible or a bad person. Things can happen in life where we get put into an unfavorable position. The next thing we know, our credit reports are shot.

Be up front with your potential landlord. Explain to them how you arrived in the position that you are in and explain to them that you are a responsible person. This may not work but being honest with them at least gives them something to consider whereas a credit report is in black and white.

If you do wind up getting rental approval based on this conversation, it is important to not betray their trust. Landlords who approve you based on honesty are putting their trust into you and failing to pay your rent on time is a violation of that trust.

A bad credit score doesn’t have to sink your chances of getting a decent apartment. There are potential ways around all of this that can land you the apartment you have been chasing. It will take a little extra effort but don’t give up hope. There are solutions to be had that can work just the same.

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