Finally finding an apartment you love is a fantastic feeling. Being passed over for the lease because your credit score isn’t up to scratch is not. Yet, this is a concerning reality that millions of Americans face. With 36% of us living in rental accommodations, those three little digits can have a huge impact on your ability to secure your dream home. If you are worried about how to get an apartment or how long it takes to get approved for one, there are a few steps you should take before applying.
Know the Market
In some areas of the United States, competition for rental apartments is fierce. Cities like San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C. are full of people looking for their next home, meaning landlords can afford to be picky about whom they rent to. If you’re looking for accommodation in a hot rental market, it’s extra-important to have everything ready for when you find an apartment that feels like home.
Start by thoroughly researching the rental market in the area you want to live in. Ask friends or family, post in online forums (such as Reddit) or consult your professional network via LinkedIn to get a sense of what the average cost of living is. You want to know what you can get for a good price — as well as any features you can’t live without — before you even step foot through the door.
Ask a Family Member or Friend to Be a Co-Signer
Some landlords will ask for a co-signer, even if you make enough money to pay the rent on your own. A common requirement is that your annual salary is at least four times your annual rent — something that isn’t always possible for everyone.
In many cases, a co-signer will be asked to sign a document guaranteeing you will make your rent — and if you don’t pay, they may be liable instead. Different states have different requirements for guarantors — for example, in New York, co-signers need to make eight times more than the cost of rent, but it can be made up by a combination of people (e.g., your dad and your aunt). To speed up the application process, decide on — and ask — your co-signer(s) in advance.
Make Sure Your Credit Score Is the Best It Can Be
A good credit score affects more than just your potential of getting a loan – it can also impact everything from your ability to secure a dream job, to landing the apartment you want. If you have a score of below 620, you may find it tough to secure a rental agreement. Think about it from the landlord’s point of view: would you rather pick the tenant with the sparkling 730, or the one who’s scraping by at 619?
Achieving your best possible credit score doesn’t need to take months or be dull. With ScoreMaster, you can raise yours in 20 calendar days. By helping you keep track of your score in measured, actionable ways, ScoreMaster can make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running when it comes to that apartment application. It only takes a minute to apply, and the average user sees a rise of 61 points on their score. That could be the difference between you securing that apartment and it going to someone else.
Have All the Information You Need at the Ready
Applying for an apartment involves a lot of red tape. Even once you’ve achieved your best possible credit score, there probably will be a lengthy form to fill out and plenty of paperwork to support the application. If you’ve lived in a few properties over the years, have your address history noted down. Do the same with your employment record.
It goes without saying that you’ll need basic things like your Social Security number and vehicle information, as well as pay stubs to prove you earn the figure you jot down on the form. You’ll also most likely be asked for a reference from your previous landlord, and you might need to get personal references from someone such as your boss.
Having these documents at the ready and your credit score at its best will mean you breeze through the application process. Need help? Get one step closer to your dream apartment by signing up for ScoreMaster now.
*Legal Disclaimer – ScoreMaster is a patent-pending educational feature simulating credit utilization’s effect on credit scores via payments or spending. Your results may vary and are not guaranteed.