How to Qualify for a Rental Unit With a Bad FICO Score

At Mesa Property Management, we do everything we can to get our applicants qualified for a rental property.  Your FICO score (aka Credit Score) is a huge asset if it is at 720 or above.

The problem is that many renters do not have a FICO score anywhere near 720, which can cause a problem when applying for a rental unit. It may automatically disqualify you from the application process if you are not aware of your options.

Therefore, here are 5 tips on how to qualify for a rental even though your FICO score is not great:

1. Have Solid, Verifiable Landlord References

A strong landlord reference verifying that you paid the rent on time and took care of the property will give a perspective landlord a justifiable reason to trust that you will do the same with their rental property.  Ideally, we, at Mesa Property Management, like to get this verification from a landlord you do not currently rent from, as they will give us the best indication of how you leave a rental property at the end of a tenancy.

2. Have an Established W-2 Job  

If you have been at your job for a long period of time and are paid as a W-2 employee, you have a history of consistent employment. Sometimes, a well paying job can help mitigate a low credit score when applying for a rental property.

3. Offer a Double Deposit

In California, a landlord cannot charge more than two times the monthly rent as a Security Deposit on an unfurnished unit. If you don’t have great credit, offer to pay a double deposit to show you are willing to back up your commitment with real money.

4. Be Upfront About Your Credit

Don’t make the prospective landlord figure out you have bad credit only AFTER they run your credit report. Some landlords have very strict FICO score requirements, and you can save yourself the cost of the application fee and a further decrease in your credit score from the inquiry the landlord makes on your credit report if this particular landlord would not be willing to be flexible with your current FICO score.

5. Consider a Co-signer

Have someone willing to co-sign with a FICO of 780 or above. This could help in your getting qualified.  Some landlords will not accept co-signers, so ask upfront before you pay the application fee.

Just like a disclaimer on a mutual fund advertisement that says  “past performance is no guarantee of future results” the same goes for all of these notes. They may do well to help your current rental situation, but none of these are guaranteed to slide you into a housing unit with a bad credit score.…. However, it sure is a great indicator! Many respectable landlords and property owners will be willing to work with you if you can prove your capability to be a good tenant and are responsible.

All landlords have two main concerns with placing a tenant into a rental property.  

  • Will they pay the rent in full, on time, every month, and
  • Will they take care of the property?  

The more solid information you can provide that you have done this in the past the better chance you have of being approved for a rental property, today.