Home > Personal Finance > Why You Need to Check Your Credit Before Renting an Apartment

Comments 0 Comments

Apartment hunting isn’t everyone’s idea of an adventure. There are so many things to consider, from the big stuff, like how much rent costs, to the little details, like whether the kitchen has a dishwasher, and these concerns are often made much worse by time constraints. (OK, the dishwasher may be a big deal to some people, but that’s not the point here.)

Despite its many annoyances, I love looking for a new place to live. I actually just finished an apartment hunt, after a week of dozens of phone calls and emails, two exhausting days of apartment visits, a day waiting for approval and another day to finalize the lease. It was wonderful — I’m really excited about our new place — but it also reminded me about something I hadn’t thought about since I moved last: Landlords want tenants with good credit.

Browse With Confidence

My husband and I check our credit regularly, so I knew where we stood going into the apartment search. Given our habit of making loan and credit card payments on time and only using credit when we need it, I knew we were in good shape, not to mention our history of being good tenants.

When brokers or landlords asked if I had any idea about my credit standing, it was really nice to be able to respond confidently (and positively). Even if my circumstances were different and I had some blemishes on my credit report, like a high balance on a credit card or a collection account, it would have been better to be able to explain myself, rather than sheepishly respond, “I have no idea.”

There was more to it than my personal comfort level: My rental application specifically asked about negative items on my credit report, and if I hadn’t checked in advance, I may not have been able to answer accurately. If my application didn’t match my credit report when the apartment management company checked it, my application could have been in jeopardy.

Increase Your Options

Some landlords don’t have high credit standards for their tenants. They don’t all even run credit checks on applicants, but plenty do, and all landlords care about whether they’ll get paid. Having poor credit may limit your housing options, which could present huge challenges for your budget, especially in a crowded rental market.

Everyone has different priorities when choosing where to live, and you’ll likely have to make sacrifices, but you don’t want to limit yourself because you haven’t worked on your credit standing.

Credit also impacts more than just your address — poor credit can cost you high premiums on insurance or deposits on utilities, making an already expensive life change that much more costly.

Preparedness Wins Rental Wars

As soon as you know you’ll be looking for a new place to live, you should check your credit reports and scores (ideally, this is already a habit). The more time you have to improve your score or correct errors, the less stressful your apartment hunt will be.

You also don’t want to find your perfect apartment, apply and get denied, just because you had no idea about your credit standing. Not only will you waste money on application fees, you will waste time. Say you’re in one of the country’s big cities: Apartments are often rented soon after they become available, so you don’t have time to make sure your credit is in order once you find the right one.

You can check your free credit reports once a year and see your free credit scores through Credit.com.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team