Do you need to know how to get an apartment at 18 with no credit?
When you’re looking for an apartment to rent, it can be pretty stressful. It’s even worse when you’re just 18 years old and have no credit to your name. In this post I’ll take you through exactly how you can maximise your chances of getting your first rented place when you’re 18 and a good credit score is just not possible. I will also take a look at how to build good credit at such a young age, and avoid the nightmare of having a low credit score.
So let’s get right into it.
What is my credit score?
That’s a good question. When you’ve just turned 18 and have the world at your feet, you’re going to want to be able to spend some money. Your credit score will tell any lenders how ‘good’ you are for credit. The score is based on a number of factors, including your previous spending. Later, your credit score will be a big part of your life. It will affect any home purchase, buying a car and even simple purchases in stores.
You need a decent credit score to be able to make your way in the world. And one of the first tests of your score is renting an apartment. This is where everything seems to fall apart. How can you have a good credit score when you haven’t been given credit in the past? And how can you prove that you are able to keep up with your rent when you don’t have a good credit score?
What do landlords want?
They need to know that you can be trusted with rent. And for that they need a credit report. They usually rent out their property after having a background check and a credit check carried out. The background check will tell the landlord if you have been evicted from any previous rentals, as well as if you have been convicted of a crime. The credit check reviews your financial history. If you’ve paid on time and borrowed responsibly, you will have a good credit score. This means an individual owner of a property will feel it is safe to rent to you.
When you’re 18 years old and just started out in life, you won’t have a solid ‘financial history’ and there is a very strong chance you won’t have borrowed money from a bank before.
How to get an apartment at 18 with no credit
Follwoing are some simple steps you can take to vastly increase your chances of getting an apartment or rental unit when you have a poor credit score.
Get yourself a co-signer
If you know someone that has good credit, you could identify them as a co-signer. A co-signer is someone who can give landlords peace of mind. If for some reason you fall behind on rent, the landlord will go to the co-signer and ask for the money.
Obviously this can be a little awkward if you don’t pay your rent. But you’re trying to get your apartment, and if you’re serious about it then you need to talk to a family member or friend for this kind of help. They are completely liable for any missing rent if they become co-signer.
Lots of people do this, especially young people (students at college, for example). Have a discussion with someone you know and see what they think. If you can get a co-signer, you can have a chance to get that apartment.
Roomates are great to have. They’re even better if you don’t have credit.
Perhaps this particular scenario works best when you’re moving in with close friends. If they have good credit you can base your rental agreement on that. Then, just make sure you pay the rent on time every month. Again, it’s using someone else’s credit to get that rental of your first apartment taken care of, but it makes perfect sense.
How to get an apartment at 18 with no credit with proof of a steady income
If you have a job or source of monthly income that you can demonstrate then this is another way you can get an apartment lease at 18 with no credit. Bank statements can be perfectly adequate evidence of your having a regular income.
Landlords are understandably nervous around the reliability of rent payments, especially with first time renters. But if they can see that your monthly take-home pay is capable of paying for the rent then there is a good chance they will work out some kind of agreement. Most landlords will want to see proof of income (such as pay stubs or evidence from your bank account) for the last 3 months. They will also want to see that your income will confortably cover rent. This means that you should be earning around 3 times as much money as much as your rent will be.
You can also demonstrate your savings too. If you have a few months of rent money saved up and can prove this, most landlords will be reasonable about it.
Move in ASAP
Landlords are forever playing a risky game. They have to mkae sure that their apartments are full at all times, or they don’t receive income. In fact, most landlords are very close to losing money on a regular basis.
This could be a way in for you. If you offer to move in immediately, this can solve the problem of empty apartments for the landlord. They may be sitting on a vacant apartment, and you could be their saviour. You may not have a sound credit history, but you’re available to move in.
This often means that the landlord will discuss a shorter rent term. They may say that you pay for the first three months, for example, and then review the siituation.
Having the ability to move in and start paying rent can mean that your credit history is irrelevant. If this sounds like you, it is a good idea to talk to the landlord with the aim of coming to some kind of agreement.
How to get an apartment at 18 with no credit using references
Perhaps you have previous landlords? Or how about a family doctor who has known you for years? Providing a reference or letters of recommendation from such people can go a long way towards reassuring a landlord about the trustworthiness of potential tenants. They will see this ‘character reference’ as posiitve, as the person wriitng it will vouch for your honesty and good character.
Who to ask? Well, there is the previous landlord and doctor, but you can also ask teachers and people in the local religious community. The best outcome would be a letter of recommendation. This doesn’t have to be a long letter, but it should allow the person writing it to show that they see you as trustworthy and responsible.
With larger, commercally managed rental properties and apartment complexes ,you will come up against people who are part of a property management company. Choosing to rent with private landlords is a way to avoid the property manager and rental companies that are part of a bigger machine.
A private landlord may not even ask for a credit check. They may want proof of earnings, but could bypass the credit check altogether. Large property rental companies will ask for a credit check as part of their normal processes. A private owner may only be interested in you showing you have enough to cover the monthly rent. As long as those rental payments are coming in, they’re happy.
How to get an apartment at 18 with no credit using a larger security deposit
This one is a little tricky because some states won’t allow landlords to take more than one month of rent as a deposit. It’s worth asking though, and it could mean that you can pay a larger deposit and get that apartment even if you have bad credit or no credit.
This is also dependent on the landlord. If they are happy to do this, negotiate a number and then pay the larger deposit to secure the property.
No credit check apartments
These are becoming more popular these days, and they are exactly what they sound like.
Some landlords (and agencies) offer an apartment to renters without good credit. These will not be high-end properties, but rather properties that need to be filled quickly. And if they need to be filled quickly, their quality may be an issue.
This does not mean that you should avoid this option. Obviously, you could protect yourself by going to see the apartment with someone else. This way you have the opportunity to get someoene elses ‘feel’ for the place. You can also seek references on the property owner and the rental history and make sure that contact details for the prospective landlord are all legit. Ensure you secure a short-term rent first of all, so you can work out if you really want the apartment or not.
How to get an apartment at 18 with no credit by becoming an authorized user
This is not a common method, but more and more young people are using it. If you know someone who has a credit card and a strong credit history, you can ask to be added to their credit card as an authorized user. This will automatically help to build good credit on your credit score.
Take out personal loans
College students could take out student loans, or you could opt for car loans, both of which will help you build good credit. There is a third alternative though, that can save you a lot of stress.
A credit-builder loan is something that a credit union may offer. These allow you to build up credit as you make monthly payments into the loan. You don’t receive payments like you would with a normal loan, but you build credit over time. A credit-builder loan has been designed to help you build credit. This is seen by many young adults as the best way to build credit quickly.
Make a budget
One of the best ways to build credit at 18 (or any age for that matter) is simply to live within your means. If you are able to spend less than you make you will develop responsible habits around money. This means that you are laying the groundwork for a positive future when it comes to credit.
One good tip is to set a budget for a week that you know will save you money. It could only be a few dollars, but once you have achieved this you will feel more confident about budgeting. Then, build a little extra into the process each week until you have got to a stage where you are living well within your means.
What credit score do I need?
Your credit score is just like a kind of financial report card. It tells people like landlords how likely it is that you will be able to pay bills and meet your responsibilities financially. The lower the score, the less likely you will be offered credit or be trusted for significant payments such as rent.
To find out your current score, go to AnnualCreditReport.com
There is no real ‘industry standard’ for the credit report ratings. However, there is a general guide to your current credit score and how it is viewed by people like a potential landlord.
- Poor: 300 – 579
- Fair: 580 – 669
- Good: 670 – 739
- Very Good: 740 – 799
- Exceptional: 800 – 850
The minimum credit score to secure a rental property will vary across markets and regions, but it is generally accepted that a score of 650 is the minimum. Individual landlords who ask to see a credit score might ask for more than 650, or less when you make your rental application. You may aso find that some more competitive parts of town may have landlords that ask for a higher credit score.
How do they work out my credit report?
You may have ‘no credit’, but it is useful to know just how the score is worked out. It is usually in the following way:
Payment history: 35%
Total amount of debt owed: 30%
Length of credit history: 15%
Credit mix: 10%
New credit: 10%
If you are 18 and you want to start building a good credit history, make sure you have a good record of making payments. You also need to ensure you have a low debt balance. This covers the 65% of the first two entries on the list above.
You could also open a secured credit card. This is where you open a credit card (not all banks and lenders offer this type of card) and secure it with some money from the outset. The money you lay down becomes your card limit, and you start building up credit from that point onwards.
And pay your bills. If you are late with any bill you may have (even a cellphone bill) the company could alert the credit bureaus, which wil affect your credit score.
How to get an apartment at 18 with no credit
First-time renters without an established credit history can feel like they are unable to make even the first step towards having their own place. However, with the ideas outlined in this post, it is possible to get started even with a lack of credit history.
Please, please remember that it is not a race. The vast majority of people at 18 will not have good credit. This is normal. It’s all about developing budgeting habits, and being a little flexible with how you communicate to landlords.
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