What Kind of Credit Score Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?

Just like most things in the United States, renting an apartment requires renters to have a good credit score. Landlords like renters who have higher credit scores because they pose a lower risk to them because they’re more likely to pay their rent on time. So, don’t be surprised if your potential landlord asks you to complete a credit application because he approves you for an apartment. That said, what credit score do you need to rent an apartment? We will discuss the answer to this question in much detail below.

What Kind of Credit Score Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?

The credit score that you need to rent an apartment depends on the market where you’re trying to rent an apartment. For example, in a hot market where there is an abundance of renters seeking an apartment, you may need a credit score within the 700s to rent. However, the average credit score needed to rent an apartment in regular markets is a 620 credit score, while areas in high demand, such as New York City require you to have a credit score of at least 650 to rent an apartment. A credit score below 620 makes it very difficult to qualify for an apartment with a landlord that checks credit. That said, smaller landlords are typically more flexible in who they rent apartments to, so you might have more wiggle room negotiating the rent of an apartment with them.

Credit Score

Landlords like to see tenants with high credit scores because a good credit score indicates that the renter poses a low risk of nonpayment of rent. For a landlord, the primary concern is finding a tenant who will pay his rent on time. So, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be approved to rent an apartment because you have a proven track record of borrowing money and repaying on time. The opposite is true. Persons with lower credit scores tend to pose a higher risk of not paying their rent on time because they are not as financially responsible as persons with higher credit scores.


That said, in addition to looking at your credit score, when landlords perform a background check, they look to see whether you have any evictions, bankruptcies, or collection accounts on your credit report. Having an eviction does not appear on your credit report, but a landlord may be able to uncover one as part of the background check they’ll conduct.

Most renter screening services check for eviction. If your background reveals an eviction, your landlord may refuse to rent you an apartment because an eviction has been filed against you in the past. Evictions are typically filed against tenants who do not pay their rent on time. Typically, landlords do not like to rent apartments to persons who have evictions filed against them because they pose a high risk of nonpayment, especially because they have failed to pay their rent as agreed in the past.

Employment & Financial Status

Before renting you an apartment, some landlords may as you for your employment status and proof of income during the screening process. Proof of income includes pay stubs and bank statements to show the landlord that you have the financial capability to pay your rent on time. Some landlords require renters to have income that is at least double or triple that’s triple their monthly rent payment.  

Criminal Convictions

In addition to looking at the credit score that you need to rent an apartment, landlords often look at whether you have a criminal conviction. Criminal convictions are often added to one’s credit report under the section titled public records. So, a landlord could deny to rent you an apartment if you have a conviction for any crime.

Getting a Copy of Your Credit Report Before Renting an Apartment

If you want to rent an apartment, it’s good to start by requesting a copy of your credit report and credit score. Requesting your credit report will give you a good idea of what your credit score is and whether you need to improve your credit score before renting an apartment.

If you have a credit score in the 700s, you are unlikely to have trouble renting most apartments, however, if you have a credit score in the 600s, you should try to improve your credit score before proceeding to renting an apartment.

You can improve your credit score within a couple of months by paying all of your credit card and loan bills on time, reducing the amount of debt that you have, and refraining from applying for new credit or loans before you submit your rent application.

If you have a decent credit score, but need to strengthen your rent application, sent your landlord copies of your bank statements to show your landlord that you have the money to comfortably pay your rent.

Renting an Apartment with Bad Credit

If you don’t have good credit to an apartment, you may be able to rent an apartment by looking for apartments that don’t require credit checks as part of the application process. A quick search of an apartment on sites, such as Craigslist will probably reveal a ton of apartment complexes that offer apartments without credit checks. The apartment you rent may not be as fancy as some of the apartment complexes that require credit checks, but it’s a place to live nevertheless.

If you apply to rent an apartment with a less than stellar credit score, and you’re application is rejected, you can offer the landlord a larger security deposit or pay a few months of rent ahead of time for the apartment to ease the landlord’s concerns about your ability to pay rent.

The third option you have if you do not have a good credit score is to ask a relative or close friend to cosign with you for your apartment. Cosigners often solve the problem of not being approved for an apartment, the only setback is that the cosigner is essentially agreeing to be held liable for the rent payments if you do not make them on time.

Most landlords are willing to work with potential renters to approve them for an apartment, and so they will typically ask you to prove proof of your income, upfront rent, references, and larger security deposit. Some will do whatever they can to get you into the apartment that you want.

Renting an Apartment with No Credit

Renting an apartment with no credit will make it difficult if you’re applying to rent apartment with a landlord who performs credit checks. This is so because if you have never applied for a credit card or loan, your credit report is essentially empty and you would not have a credit score. One way to quickly get past this problem is to open a credit card and with a couple of months of using and making timely payments on your credit card, you will have a decent credit score that will allow you to rent an apartment.

If you aren’t approved for a regular unsecured credit card, you have the option of applying for a secured credit card. A secured credit card will help you just as much as an unsecured credit card. The only difference with a secured credit card is that you will have to place a security deposit and the security deposit determines your credit limit. For example, if you deposit $500, you will be given a credit card with a $500 limit. Usually, after 12 to 18 months of making timely payments, the card issuer will return your security deposit and convert your credit card into an unsecured credit card.

Credit Score Planet Frequently Asked Questions

1) Can you get an apartment with a credit score of 500?

Yes, you can get an apartment with a credit score of 500. You can try sites likes Craigslist and apartment search sites to find apartment complexes who do not perform credit checks and you may get approved. Also, even if a credit check is required, you may be able to rent an apartment with a poor credit score of 500 by agreeing to additional terms, such as paying upfront rent or a higher security deposit.

2) What credit score do you need for an apartment?

Typically, you want to have a credit score of at least 620 to rent an apartment. Some areas in the United States require higher credit scores, such as 650 or 700.

3) Can you get an apartment with a 600 credit score?

Yes, you can get an apartment with a 600 credit score, however, it may be difficult if the landlord conducts a credit check because 600 is on the lower end of credit scores.

4) Can you be denied an apartment for bad credit?

Yes, you can certainly be denied an apartment for having bad credit. Many landlords and property managers conduct credit score checks prior to approving tenants for an apartment.

Credit Score Needed to Rent an Apartment

At this point you probably know that having a good credit score is important to renting an apartment. The average credit score to rent an apartment in the United States is a 620 credit score, with hotter markets, such as New York City, requiring at least a 650 or 700 credit score. That said, even if you do not have the credit score to rent the apartment that you want, we go over some ways to improve your credit score, as well as some alternatives to renting the apartment that you want.