Renting an Apartment with Poor Credit

by John Stevenson on March 27, 2012

Apartment complexes and landlords use applicants’ credit score to decide on whether to rent their place or not. Poor credit can be a reason to end up homeless but only if you look in the wrong places.

Naturally, different landlords and apartment complexes differ in their requirements. You may see your rental application denied if you have bad credit even if you have a high salary and an excellent rental history.

Where do you start then? If you have poor credit, the easiest way to get a place is to find a landlord who does not run credit checks. Apartment complexes require one as they are managed by property management businesses. If your credit score is poor, they will probably turn you down, so you should look someplace else.

One way to find an apartment (even if you credit score is not exactly stellar) is to look at the classified section of local newspapers. This is where many landlords advertise for rentals. Do not miss the Sunday’s paper as you will find the most advertisements in it. You may also check online, with many newspapers posting classified ads in their online editions as well (

As you talk to the landlord, inquiring about an apartment, it pays to ask about the criteria used as part of the selection process. Naturally, if credit history is not among them, this is one thing not to worry about. Even if they require a credit check, it is important to be honest and open about any blemishes on your credit history. The landlord will feel better if you are honest and upfront rather than secretive and sneaky (Relocate Canada).

Then, even if the landlord requires a credit check, it is important to make good impression. And nothing gives better inside into what tenant you are than references from previous landlords. Your letters of recommendation should state that you paid the rent in a timely manner, followed the leasing rules, and kept the place in good condition. You may also contact persons with whom you have a good financial relationship, for example, your current employer or your bank.

Keep in mind that landlords take into account other factors as well, such as where you work and what your income is, whether you smoke, have pets, and how many people will be moving in. It is not only credit history landlords take into consideration. On the other hand, there are certain questions landlords cannot ask regardless of whether your credit score is poor or outstanding. For example, they cannot ask what your religion, sexual preference, or ethnic background is. Landlords cannot ask whether you plan to have children or whether family members will be visiting. In addition, they are not allowed to ask whether you are divorced, single, or married. Finally, landlords are not supposed to request your social insurance number and threaten they will not rent if you do not provide it. In general, regardless of your credit standing, you are not required to answer questions that infringe on your rights under the Human Rights Code in your province (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation).

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