Have money, need apartment.
November 16, 2012 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Bad credit, but good income. Other complications. You're a landlord - what would convince you to rent to us, especially in a competitive housing market? Or you've been in a tenant in this or similar situations - what did you do? Snowflakes abound.

I and my partner need to rent a new apartment within the next month and a half. Combined, we have a fairly decent income - around 100K. The problem is, both of our credit is fairly bad, due to things that are absolutely fixable but not within our time limit to move.

Doing the traditional divide-by-40 rule gives us around 2500 as a figure. We are looking to get an apartment well under that, which in theory should make a landlord more comfortable, but I'm just not sure.

In addition, we don't have recent rental history, as we have been subletting. I have several years of excellent older rental history, with never a late or missed payment. My partner, however, has an eviction on his past record. It was unjustified - he was evicted after he had already given notice and moved out - but again, will probably take more time than we have to correct the record.

Before anyone says "You'll be fine, as long as you're not in SF, LA, or NYC - well, we are, so that hope is off.

I am not quite sure what to do - most listings that I've been looking at either mention "need good credit" on the listing or ask for rental history/recommendations from landlords. When I contacted a broker, they asked about what our credit was like. The ones that don't ask me to bring everything with me so I can be approved and sign- I guess rentals move very fast here. I have seen some recommendations to come and present well, which we can certainly do, but we need to get in the door first.

I don't know what to do, or what to bring to mitigate this. Should I go through my old paperwork for my previous apartment managing companies? Write to them and request references? Offer to pay some months up front in addition to the usual first/last/security combo? Would it even matter at this point? What is our best option? (And would it be best to hire a broker who deals with people with bad credit? How would we find them?) Please help!
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine managed to do this. She explained the reasons she had bad credit (which she had dealt with), she provided a letter of reference or two from past landlords (even though she'd subletted), and she offered to pay the first three months up front. She landed a one-bedroom in Manhattan Chinatown within her first month of looking.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:05 AM on November 16, 2012

I imagine putting down a higher than normal security deposit will smooth over any concerns regarding your credit history.
posted by COD at 9:08 AM on November 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yeah, working for a bunch of landlords? Extra deposit, and a flash of your recent pay stubs.

'Extra deposit' may be considerably extra, though. Depends on the people.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:12 AM on November 16, 2012

I was up-front with a number of landlords when I was moving into an apartment. The economy is bad, and they all understood and didn't require anything in addition to the explanation (foreclosure, in my case).

A good rental history from a previous landlord goes a long way, as well.
posted by xingcat at 9:29 AM on November 16, 2012

Paying several months in advance can do wonders for a landlord's doubts.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:36 AM on November 16, 2012

I paid 6mo rent immediately plus the usual one month deposit. Around the 4 month mark I paid the remaining 6 months rent. I still had to accept living in a not-so-great neighborhood.
posted by elizardbits at 9:40 AM on November 16, 2012

Cash on hand. Offering to pay substantially more than 1st/Last/Security goes a long way.

If you can't do that, What constitutes "good" credit may surprise you. Good for a rental is very different than Good for a mortgage, even in NYC. Keep pay stubs and that older rental history handy.
posted by French Fry at 9:52 AM on November 16, 2012

In cities like New York City, I actually wouldn't worry too much. Obviously they'll salivate over a 700 credit report or whatever. But you are not alone! And as for the rest of us...

Make a neat little binder. Put in two or three years of tax returns. (Not the full thing! Just the part that proves income.) Maybe a letter from your CPA, verifying current/future income. Add anything else that makes you look awesome; letters of recommendation, bank statements for savings accounts, landlord letters. Brokers and landlords get blown away by a package like this. (With it, I've ever have had to pay multiples of the security deposit or the like; people really like references.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:56 AM on November 16, 2012

I'm a landlord and I would rent to you if you were upfront with me about the issued before I found them out in the credit report and trying to call past landlords. A lot would be based on the vibe I got from you and I'd request you sign a lease for a specified amount of time and pay for 3-4 months upfront.
posted by i_wear_boots at 10:05 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am a landlord. I have several low income apartments, and get people with terrible credit rating often.

I want to talk to their previous landlord. If someone gave me the number of the previous landlord, and asked me to call them - that would go a long way. If they offered that to me up front, and everything else looked good, I might not even call the previous landlord - I might just assume that all is good. Calling your sub-let person is nearly as good, and any previous landlords that you can locate.

I want to see income right up front, so having pay-stubs on hand is helpful. Also, offering me to call their employer as a reference is helpful.

Also, willingness to pay one month ahead helps.

Biggest thing is being honest, appearing to be rational, knowing your issues, and having some way to address them - if I see some person that hit a bump in the road, understands the bump, and is working to make things right, then all is good. It is when someone appears to be hiding something, when things don't quite add up, then I have a concern.
posted by Flood at 10:08 AM on November 16, 2012

We just went through this in the Bay Area. We were in a slightly different situation in that we had great credit but are Canadian so down here we have no credit. We were also homeowners so no past references. We looked at 11 places and at the end of each tour told the people our situation but that we did have my husbands paystubs, a blacked out copy of our chequing account statement, his offer letter and a copy of our clean Canadian criminal record checks. We also were happy to pay first, last and a deposit. Each and every place we visited offered to rent to us. So I think being upfront, friendly and willing to pay makes all the difference.

Also every place we saw the listing said strong credit history and references required. We applied regardless. Good luck to you.
posted by saradarlin at 11:25 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

1. Bring evidence of your income and a letter from whoever you subletted from saying things were returned in nice condition. If you have money in the bank, bring a copy of your bank statement, too.

2. Offer to pay for multiple months up front, or offer to pay 2 months ahead rather than one (that is, you pay for January rent on December 1, not Jan 1).

3. Explain that your credit is currently bad but that you're working on improving it. Don't apologize, just let them know in a friendly way what's up and why.

If you were poor, you might be hosed, but luckily for you, you guys make enough money that people might be willing to overlook the bad credit.
posted by zug at 12:56 PM on November 16, 2012

I will echo the above comments about having copious proof of income, good references, and an open attitude about your credit history. If you're capable of paying a few months' rent in advance, offering to do that would not be a bad idea. Personally, I'd take that over a large deposit because I am legally constrained as to what I can use that deposit for. I'd suggest focusing on private landlord/small building, rather than a large management company.

I am a private landlord and I am currently renting to a just-out-of-college couple that have no real credit history, but appropriate income (paystubs--SSN blacked out--and a phone number for HR) and an excellent reference from their last landlord. I debated asking for a guarantor on the lease, but decided against it. If you have someone willing to sign as a guarantor, that might help you if all else fails. Prove you've got renter's insurance and you suddenly look a hell of a lot more fiscally responsible, too.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:37 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

We were going through a short sale (and I have a foreclosure from 18 months ago) when we were attempting to rent this past summer. It was difficult, and our first choice for a house turned us down due to credit issues. We have no significant debt and I have 10 years in at my job (he has 2), solid income, and besides the FC and Short Sale we have 0 black marks on our credit. We also had no rental history since we had owned homes for the last 5 years.

The first house that turned us down - we offered to double (or triple!) the security deposit, and the owner wouldn't budge (I suspect the property management company were also being jerks). If you're dealing with companies rather than individuals, maybe you will have better luck. But yes, offer to put more money down if needed, reference letters are good if you can obtain them. I think being open and up front about our credit issues helped us get into our second choice for a home.
posted by getawaysticks at 1:19 PM on November 17, 2012

I just rented in the SF Bay Area (Marin) with not-great credit, but with four years in the same place previous to this and no late/missed payments. I applied for this place partially because I spoke with the private landlord (not an agency) and told him about my credit (which is bad for some really legitimate reasons). He cared more about my stable work history and my previous landlord's reference than my credit.

I also had to pay a $4k deposit (although half of that was for pets).
posted by guster4lovers at 3:25 PM on November 17, 2012

« Older Untucked shirts for a short guy?   |   Seeing a psychiatrist for anxiety. How does that... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.