How to rent an apt with bad credit
May 26, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Renting an apartment in LA with bad credit, possible?

I'm moving to LA next week and found a temporary place that doesnt do credit checks. My rental history is clean but my overall credit is bad. Will I be able to rent anything decent? I have a lot of money saved up and could even pay for the entire year up front in cash, (looking to rent something between 1000-1200 a month downtown) will this help me out? My negatives are bad credit history, no proof of income (I work from home and do consulting work which is not consistent and use a 1099) which makes me think I'll only be eligible for month to month places which usually suck or I'd have to get a co signer? Thanks.
posted by HonestAsian to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure what the answer is about the 1099 income, but I can tell you that I've rented several nice places with really awful credit. I have always been totally upfront about my credit, which landlords seem to appreciate. I also always give old landlords as references. I've found significantly more luck with owners rather than property agents.
posted by Zophi at 8:15 AM on May 26, 2011

I agree with Zophi that you should aim to talk to the owners, not management companies. They're likely to be a lot more flexible with the requirements (& more open to the idea of several months payment up front instead of a credit check).
posted by insectosaurus at 8:17 AM on May 26, 2011

I don't live in LA, but in Chicago, money and positive landlord references trump bad credit. Be up front with any place where you rent--tell them your credit is bad, but you can pay a bigger security deposit or even pay for a whole year in advance. We were able to rent with bad credit by paying a double security deposit.

Also, you'll have better luck with individual landlords (a single person owning a building or apartment) rather than a management company or real estate company. Large companies usually have a set lower limit for credit score and are less willing to budge. On preview--exactly what both commenters before me have said on this issue.
posted by catwoman429 at 8:20 AM on May 26, 2011

Even if you can, don't offer to pay your rent a year in advance in cash unless you want to be completely over a barrel with your landlord, who will have no incentive to respond to any complaints you might make, or make any repairs.
posted by Scram at 8:56 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Less than stellar credit here too, and lifelong L.A. renter. Seconding the reco's for dealing with individual landlords rather than management companies, not only because they are more likely to be lenient about credit reports, but in general they are far, far better to deal with.

I've also found that it depends on where you are looking to rent. The westside of Los Angeles is full of big apartment buildings run by the same handful of management companies. I've had much better luck further east (Silver Lake, Highland Park, etc), or in Santa Monica and Venice. Generally anywhere that there aren't large concentrations of multi-unit buildings.

I always offer references (previous landlords) and a cash incentive - an extra month's rent in advance in addition to the deposit. Never once has a landlord actually *taken* that extra deposit, but they usually seem impressed that I've offered it.
posted by chez shoes at 9:14 AM on May 26, 2011

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