Anyone who has searched for an apartment in the last several years knows the Internet is an extremely helpful tool. You can browse rental sites by a variety of criteria, like square footage, number of bathrooms, price and pet friendliness. These things make it a lot easier to narrow down your choices before you start making apartment visits and filling out applications.
It would be nice if you could filter options by credit standards, because that can be the difference between the keys to a new place or a rejection notice.
A landlord in San Francisco even tried to remove tenants with FICO credit scores lower than 725 and incomes less than $100,000. (He has since rescinded the memo he sent to residents about the credit and salary requirements.) According to Ted Gullicksen, the director of the San Francisco Tenants’ Union, who was interviewed by ABC News about the incident, landlords can’t set a minimum income or try to re-qualify the tenant under new standards once the person has moved in.
They can certainly hold you to high standards beforehand, which is why you’ll want to know your credit score and work to improve it before setting your heart on an apartment.
What to Expect When You Apply
Landlords will probably pull your credit report (you can see your credit reports for free once every year), in addition to a credit score or two, when evaluating your application, because they want to know how likely you are to pay your rent on time. If you have poor credit or no credit, the landlord may require you to pay a large deposit, or you could get turned down altogether.
Housing is one of the many aspects of life that is heavily dependent on your credit history (insurance premiums and utility bills are others). Whether it should be that way is a matter of debate, but if you want to improve your chances of getting an apartment and avoiding paying a large deposit upfront, it’s worth your time to build credit.
You won’t know what credit score (if any) a potential landlord will consult, but tracking your credit score is still helpful in gauging your credit standing. By checking the same credit score from month to month — which you can do for free on sites like Credit.com — you will be able to tell if your actions such as credit card use and loan payments are improving or hurting your credit. Empowered with that information, you can take steps to boost your scores.
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