Renting With Bad Credit in NYC

Credit scores are extremely complex numbers that govern much of what you can and cannot do in this country. Credit scores range from zero to 900, with most people falling between 300 and 800. It’s easy for your credit score to fall below 650, which sounds like a big number, but is actually considered a “not great” when it comes to applying for loans and finding homes. Most apartments for rent will require a credit check so landlords can get a good idea of ​​your reliability when it comes to making payments on time. However, your credit can drop for surprising reasons, for example, paying off your student loans or credit card debt in full can cause it to drop. What if you want to rent an apartment, but your credit score is lower than you would like? The good news is that there are several strategies you can use.

Why do landlords check your credit score?

Credit scores are checked for a variety of reasons when you get a loan or make a major purchase, and the same logic applies to homeowners. A credit score is a very easy way for landlords to make sure you’re a reliable tenant and can pay rent on time. This logic makes sense on paper but can also be wrong. After all, your credit score can change for many reasons, including mistakes made by credit card companies or credit score evaluators.

For this reason, you have a variety of options if you have bad credit. A score below 650 does not necessarily mean that you are unreliable. It just means that something could have happened that left a dent in your numbers. This means you will have to work harder to prove that you are reliable and can pay your rent. Although it may be difficult, it is totally possible.

Quickly increase your credit score

We won’t lie to you. This method is a bit tricky and can take a month or two to start working. That said, there are ways to quickly boost your credit score, such as applying for a higher credit limit, becoming an authorized user for a friend or family member with good credit, or simply starting to pay off debts. several times a month instead of once a month. month. Again, this method may take a few weeks to get going, but it’s better than waiting a year or more.

Find a co-signer or guarantor

View of the streets of New York
Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

If you don’t have a reliable credit score, you may have the option of piggybacking on someone else’s good credit in order to get your home. It’s easier if you’re looking for a place with roommates. If one or more of them have a good credit score, you’ll be fine. Their score will more than likely be enough to satisfy the owner. They just want to make sure you can pay the rent, so having a roommate with good credit will be peace of mind for the landlord.

If you want to live alone or if all of your roommates have bad credit, you’ll need a guarantor. It can be anyone from your parents to a loved one, friend or family. This guarantor should have a great score and a stable contract with plenty of extra income, as they will be legally obligated to pay your rent if you are unable to do so. For this reason, you and your guarantor must be able to trust each other. If they pay your rent too many times over, they may not be as willing to vouch for you when it comes time to find a new home or renew the lease.

If the people closest to you can’t vouch for whatever reason, another good option is a third-party guarantor. Companies like Insurent and Leap Easy will act as guarantor for a fee. They require proof of employment and an annual salary of 27.5 times the monthly rent, but that’s much cheaper than the 40 times the monthly rent that landlords sometimes charge potential tenants. It is also a way to boost your credit score, as you will be making payments to the guarantor company and your monthly rent.

Find a sublease

This method is another one where you’re basically relying on someone else’s credit rating. In this case, you usually have to prove to the tenant, not the landlord, that you can pay rent. Indeed, the tenant is always responsible for paying the rent in the event of a shortfall, so his credit score is the only one that matters to the landlord. That said, you’ll likely be signing a sublease agreement, so being responsible for your payments is always the best way to go. However, if you make the right choice, you probably won’t have to have your credit score checked, even if your accommodation will be temporary.

Find a broker who will vouch for you

Finding the right real estate agent can be a big help if you have bad credit, especially if you tell them about your credit issues early in the process. It may take some time to find a broker to do this work for you, but many even specialize in working with clients who have poor credit. These agents will have a large network of landlords, many of whom are very lenient on low scores as long as you have the credentials to prove you can afford rent.

You will also need to do some leg work if you go this route. Having multiple ways to prove your employment and income is a great start, but references from old buildings you’ve lived in will be even better. If a previous landlord is willing to stand up for you as a tenant, it will help you a lot when talking with a potential new landlord. This proof will allow your broker to build a file for you, and this file could allow you to obtain the house of your dreams. From there, you can start rebuilding your credit.

Provide proof of assets to owner

You might think that you don’t have additional sources of income available to you, especially if you have one job instead of two. However, homeowners just need a little insurance to prove they’ll be paid monthly, so having proof of various assets, like savings accounts, stocks, and even life insurance or retirement funds. retirement can reassure them. These assets should only be tapped in an emergency, but they’re a good way to show that your credit score doesn’t necessarily reflect your wealth. You just need to show them that you are responsible for the money and showing them those accounts can go a long way.

Be patient

View of metro J train above ground
Photo by Ryan Tyler on Unsplash

If you’re just moving for a change of scenery, you might just want to wait until the market cools down. Rental properties in the city are changing rapidly, with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of applicants trying to secure the same apartment. In such a crazy market, homeowners have the luxury of being picky when it comes to people with higher credit scores. The more people want to move to the city, the more those with lower credit scores are left behind.

That’s why waiting for the market to cool down might be one of your best bets. Even with an excellent credit score, there is no guarantee that you could get a place. The market can cool down for a variety of reasons, from economic turmoil to seasonality (the housing market typically cools down in the winter). Once the market cools, there will be more incentive for landlords to fill their buildings so that credit checks aren’t as big of an issue. You should still show them that you can pay to live in the building, but at least that will reassure you.

Can I avoid a credit check in New York?

Unless you sublet an apartment, unlikely. Although some apartments without credit check exist in New York, they are rare. You’re much more likely to land a place with a co-signer, guarantor, or simply by increasing your credit score. Apartments without a credit check used to be much more plentiful, but now people without a credit score usually have to enter some sort of guarantor situation.

In New York, your ideal credit score will be at least 700 if you are looking for a rental property. However, times are tough for everyone, and there are plenty of people whose credit scores don’t look like this at all. You can check your credit score for free at and go from there. If it’s high, great! If it’s low, don’t panic. Few people have a consistently high credit score, and there are ways to boost your score while finding a home. It’s a difficult situation, but you are not alone. Gather your financial documents, proof of income, a guarantor and keep looking for the right home.

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