Why You Should Be Cautious of No Credit Check Apartments

Despite what might you think, a credit check is actually a good thing when it comes to renting

brownstones in nyc on sunny day with blue skies
iStock.com/NYC Stock Photos

Nearly 80% of Americans have credit scores below 800. While this means a majority of U.S. residents don’t have “excellent” credit, there are still many people who have what is considered “good” credit. When applying for a rental home or apartment, most landlords or property managers will want to see that you have a decent credit score. If you’re considering renting a “no credit check apartment” because you don’t think your credit is up to par, we have a few reasons you might want to reconsider. We’ll break down which credit scores are good enough to get you the apartment you want and why you should be cautious of no credit check apartments.?

What credit score do I need to rent an apartment?

Most landlords and property managers are fairly reasonable when it comes to your credit check. They know that life happens, and many different factors can affect your score. Of course, they want a tenant who has a good financial track record, but that certainly doesn’t mean you need an impeccable credit score to land your dream apartment.?

As a general rule of thumb, any score over 620 is considered “good” credit when it comes to renting. If your score is anything below that, there are still other ways you can rent the apartment you really want. 

Alternatives

You can consider two alternatives if you think your credit score isn’t quite good enough to land an apartment. Using a co-signer or guarantor when signing a lease can help make up for your bad credit score. They’re similar concepts with a few key differences separating them.?

  • Co-signer: Someone with good credit who signs the lease with you and has the same rights to the apartment as you do, like a roommate
  • Guarantor: Someone with good credit who also signs the lease with you, but is legally obligated to fulfill rent payments if you’re unable to make them, like a parent or guardian

Downsides of “No Credit Check” Apartments 

If you’re still thinking of bypassing all your other options and applying for a no credit check apartment or home, keep reading. There are a few things to be cautious of with these types of rentals.

Late Fees

If you’ve signed a lease for a no credit check rental, your landlord or property manager is already aware that your credit standing is poor enough that you’re willing to seek out this type of rental. They might take advantage of this knowledge and, assuming you’re going to be late on a rent payment from time to time, charge you extremely high late fees. Those late fees can add up and inhibit you from making the next rent payment on time, creating a vicious cycle of late payments and late fees.

Safety Issues 

Owners and landlords of no credit apartments often target desperate renters who are in a pinch and willing to take anything. The waving of the credit check might be their way of keeping things as informal as possible, which can negatively affect your living situation in the long run. Often, these rentals are poorly maintained, lack security, and can be run by predatory or absent managers.?

A property that markets itself as a no credit check apartment might also be the type of place to wave background checks. If your background check is waved, your neighbors’ probably are too. Ultimately, you’ll be more comfortable in your living space if you know your neighbors have been fully vetted, just as you have.

If you’re in the market for an apartment, we recommend always renting through a property that does both credit and background checks. Search thousands of verified apartments on Zumper and find the one that’s right for you.

Find apartments near you