650 Credit Score Renting an Apartment – Ultimate Guide To Getting Approved

Many people across the nation have a 650 credit score and are concerned about how it affects their lives.

One issue that is particularly pressing is finding a place to live. Searching for an apartment with a 650 credit score can be a difficult situation that requires a lot of patience and a willingness to accept living conditions that may not be to your liking.

At least, that's what people used to think about this situation. However, the world of renting has changed a lot, and those with a 650 credit score aren't in an untenable position. In fact, they may be able to get an incredible apartment with only a little bit of work. That said, there is a strong chance that their credit score will make it more difficult for them to find a living situation that meets their needs.

As a result, it is essential to know how to approach this situation to guarantee success. The following information has been compiled from several credit experts and will help those with a 650 credit score get the apartment they want. Even better, it can help these individuals improve their rating by giving them the chance to impress credit reporting bureaus with positive payment behaviors.

A 650 Credit Score Renting An Apartment is Limiting But Not Devastating

Those with a 650 credit score are in an odd position. Their rating isn't considered truly bad but is also not truly good. It is a somewhat middling score that may cause some complications when trying to apply for new loans. Even worse, it can be a problem when you are trying to open a new bank account or if you are trying to rent an apartment.

That said, too many people assume that a 650 credit score is a death sentence for their future. That fact is far from the truth. You'll still be able to open up new bank accounts, get new loans, and even buy cars. However, you aren't going to get the best possible terms when performing these actions. For example, your car loans will have higher interest rates or require you to make a more substantial down payment.

Similarly, you may be forced to get a co-signer when you apply for an apartment. In the past, this action was impossible to avoid if you had a 650 credit score. Thankfully, a growing number of apartment complexes are willing to take a chance on individuals with this rating. That said, it may still be tough to find an apartment or may limit you to specific types.

Despite this fact, many landlords and apartment complexes are open to somebody who has a 650 credit score to make their payments. That's because landlords are more concerned about getting payments from you instead of your credit score. While they will use your score to understand your past spending behavior, getting cash from you is their biggest concern.

As a result, it isn't a bad idea to apply at multiple apartment complexes when you have a 650 credit score. You may find that many of these groups act in varying ways, depending on their policies. Some may have a strict limitation on their base credit score. However, others are likely to be more forgiving and allow you to rent from them.

Landlord Credit Checks Will Gauge Your Rental Safety

Landlord credit checks are an unavoidable fate for anyone applying for an apartment. Those with a 650 credit score are likely dreading this situation because they know that their score will impact their rent ability.

Understanding the nature of a landlord credit check can help you gauge how it will impact your ability to find an apartment and whether or not you need to be afraid of this situation.

What is a Landlord Credit Check?

A landlord credit check looks at your available credit to gauge if you are a safe person for renting purposes. They are looking into your past spending history, how much money you owe, and using this information to see if you are likely to miss payments or struggle to pay your rent at all. In this way, they can protect themselves from someone with poor spending habits.

It is important to know that your landlord can only check your credit if you permit them to do so. This fact is true of anyone who wants to check your credit. Some landlords will ask you if they can and provide a contract to sign indicating that you permitted them. However, in most cases signing an apartment application gives your landlord the right to look into your rating. Make sure you read the fine print to see if you are getting a credit check without expecting it.

Hard or Soft? Ask Before Signing

Before you sign any paperwork, ask your potential landlord if they are going through a hard or soft credit pull. You want them to say soft because that type of check will avoid impacting your score. It is the type of pull that you get when you check with companies such as Credit Karma. In fact, most landlords are likely to make soft inquiries because they know that you are probably looking at other apartments and don't want to hurt your score.

However, some apartment complexes and landlords may do a hard pull to check into your past on a deeper level. Try to avoid apartment complexes that follow this hard inquiry process. This type of credit check will immediately cost you a few points on your score and make it more difficult to apply to other kinds of loans in the future. Remember that your landlord has to get express permission from you before doing this check, so if they say they are doing a hard pull, you may want to go elsewhere.

Unfortunately, there is a chance that you are going to find yourself having to get a hard pull. Don't fret too much if this situation is unavoidable. The damage to your credit score is usually quite minor and goes away in a few months. That said, you should avoid multiple hard inquiries in a short period, such as applying for a personal or a car loan while looking for an apartment.

Most of the time, landlords will get your credit check through a bureau such as Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. However, they can also get one through a company such as the National Association of Independent Landlords. This group is set up to help landlords search through tenant history and to find a renter that they can trust. As a result, the exact scored used to find your credit history may vary.

What Information is on These Checks?

While the exact information from a credit report will vary depending on the type used, most of your personal information will be on it. This information includes your name, Social Security number, birth date, phone number, employment history, and even your address history. It also covers the history of your credit, including all of your creditor information.

Each creditor will be listed in full detail, including their names, addresses, and account numbers. Your payment history with them will be displayed, as well as any current balances and credit limits available on your account. The age of your credit accounts will also be considered. Collection attempts, such as bankruptcies, are also taken into account and used against you in many renting situations.

Obviously, your landlord is likely to be more interested in your rental history than they are your credit cards. They will check if you have been evicted from any home, if you were late on rent, and other relevant information. They will then use these details to decide if renting to you is a good idea.

Other Considerations When Getting Landlord Credit Checks

Don't worry about multiple credit inquiries from the apartment complex affecting your score. That's because credit reporting bureaus will count these as one inquiry attempt. They understand that several inquiries of the same type quickly are common for those searching for a place to live.

As a result, they will only decrease your score one time if any of your apartment complexes or potential landlords used a hard pull. This situation is designed to protect you from a devastating credit score when performing necessary buying actions. It also helps to create a more accurate realistic credit score that your landlords can use to gauge your qualifications as a renter.

The Rental Market is Very Competitive Based on Credit Score

One situation that may impact your renting success with a 650 score is your location. Typically, complete rejections have an average credit score of about 538. Thankfully, your 650 credit score is far above that level. However, certain cities will have tougher minimums that may make it difficult to find a place to rent.

For example, the average credit score in Class A or high-end buildings was about 683. Obviously, this a little higher than your 650 ratings. Class B or mid-level buildings had an average score of 647, while Class C and D or low-end buildings had an average of about 624. Thankfully, this indicates that you should have a reasonably comfortable time getting into most apartments when you have a 650 score.

That said, location does matter. For example, a credit score of 737 was average for renters in Boston. This is almost 100 points higher than your 650 credit score. Even worse, a 650 credit score may make it harder for you to rent in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Oakland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago, and Nashville. In cities with high demand and low supply, a 650 credit score will be a major limitation.

You Can Still Get in an Apartment With This 650 Score

Most experts state that a score of 620 is a typical minimum for getting into a good apartment. Thankfully, your 650 rating is higher than that. Thankfully, this means you shouldn't have a difficult time finding someplace to live. However, you may have to make some sacrifices.

The following methods are designed to improve your chances of getting into an apartment with a 650 credit score. They are useful if your apartment complex is uncomfortable with your rating and want assurance that you are a safe and reliable renter.

Show Your Proof of Income

Showing landlords and apartment complexes that you can make monthly payments go a long way towards offsetting your credit score. For example, if they ask for $1,000 a month and have a job that pays $4,000 a month, they will be more comfortable believing you can make rent.

Dispute Credit Errors

Disputing credit errors can help improve your credit score by a few points and make it easier to get into an apartment. Experts believe that errors exist on at least 20 percent of all reports. Even if it isn't likely, it is still worth checking out if it helps you get into a home.

Expand the Reference Section

Most apartment applications will include a reference section of people who trust you. If your potential landlord is nervous about your 650 credit score, offer to add more references to this section. Talking to more people about your suitability may help assuage their concerns.

Get a Co-Signer

If your apartment complex is balking at renting to you, a cosigner is often a great idea. This person will help balance their fears by assuring that your rent will be paid. Find somebody with a high credit rating to ensure that your average rating is high enough to meet your apartment complex needs.

Important Ways of Improving Your Credit

If you find that your 650 credit score is keeping you out of high-quality apartments, it might be time to boost your rating just a little. Thankfully, there are many ways you can achieve this goal. While this step is probably unnecessary for most people, it is still a wise decision for most who have a 650 credit score.

That's because it's always a great idea to improve your credit, no matter the reason. When applying for an apartment, it can make it a more straightforward process and one more likely to succeed. Don't forget that making regular rent payments may also be helping you slowly improve your credit and increase your chance of getting into a better living situation.

Avoid Excessive Credit Card Balances

High balances on your credit cards will decrease your credit score and make it harder to find an apartment. That's because your credit usage percentage is much too high. Try to pay off these balances as much as possible to open up more credit. It would help if you had a usage ratio of no more than 30 percent to get the best credit score.

Make Your Payments on Time

This action cannot be stressed enough in this article. Paying your bills on time will slowly but surely, improve your credit score. That's because it will create a positive history of repayment that credit bureaus will respond to favorably. Set up automatic payment systems whenever possible to avoid missing a payment in the future.

Pay More Than the Minimum Balance

Too many people get stuck in a rut of paying the minimum payments on a credit card. This situation is not useful because you will be paying about 90 percent interest and very little towards your actual debt. Paying 60-80 percent more every month will help quickly eliminate your debt, expand your credit usage ratio, and improve your credit before renting an apartment.

Start Paying Off Your Debts

It might be easier said than done, but paying off your debts will automatically increase your credit score. Doing so showcases strong financial choices and impresses credit bureaus. Just as critically, it expands your available credit limit and ensures that your score increases even further. Make sure that you focus on debts you can pay to make this an easier process.

FAQ on 650 Credit and Renting an Apartment

Q: Will bad credit cause me to lose an apartment?

If your credit score dips below 650 due to issues unrelated to your rent (such as missed loan payments), you cannot be evicted only because of a poor credit rating. As long as you continue to make your rent payments on time and follow the rules of your apartment complex, you should be safe from eviction.

It might not be a bad idea to talk to your apartment complex about adjusting your rent; however, increasing interest rates on other loans makes it harder for you to make your monthly payments. While this doesn't mean that they will automatically lower your rent, it might be a wise idea if you find yourself struggling or having a hard time making your payments on time. Some complex may be willing to tweak your pays a little to keep you there and to avoid the cost of finding a new tenant.

Q: Does improving my credit decrease my rent?

Your rent is not affected by your credit score unless your apartment complex decides to set adjustable rates. As a result, improving your rating doesn't really affect your rent. The only time it might is if you reapply for a new lease and your complex is willing to adjust your monthly payments because your credit scores are more favorable than they were before.

Likewise, weaker credit is not likely to affect your rent cost. Remember that you signed a contract with your landlord or apartment complex, and it cannot be changed without justification. A change in credit is typically not considered a just reason to charge rent. However, weaker credit may affect your rate if you sign a new year lease. That fact all depends on the regulations and guidelines of your complex.

Q: Will eviction affect my credit score?

Being evicted from an apartment is never an easy situation, and it is one that may impact your credit in a few ways. First of all, it is important to remember that eviction notice isn't sent to credit bureaus when it occurs. In and of itself, eviction does not affect your credit. However, if you failed to pay rent and your delinquent payments go-to collection, this situation will be reported and will adversely change your rating.

The exact nature of the change depends on the length of your delinquency. That said, your rating is likely to drop 15-20 points very quickly. Repairing this damage can be challenging to manage, as it will stay on your record for up to seven years even if you pay the collection agency for the delinquent amount you owe. However, if you were evicted for other reasons, such as breaking complex rules, the eviction won't appear on your credit report.

Q: What happens if I fail to make rent?

Failure to pay rent on time results in actions that vary depending on your apartment complex. For example, some give you a grace period of a week to make your rent without punishing you. After this grace period, you may end up suffering from additional daily fines from your rental company. These are typically anywhere from $25-50 per each day you are late.

Once you are 30 days or more delinquent on a payment, your landlord can report you to a credit bureau. They may try to evict you or get your fees by hiring a collection agency in some cases. Thankfully, these eviction and collection actions aren't likely to occur if you are late on one payment. That said, being late by a month or more on a rent payment will go on your credit report and stay there for up to seven years. So do what you can to avoid this situation.

Q: Does breaking my lease affect my co-signer?

Those with a 650 credit score often use a co-signer to get accepted by their landlord. In this situation, the co-signer takes on the renter's responsibilities if they fail to meet them. As a result, breaking your lease will affect your co-signer in a variety of adverse ways. First of all, they will be asked to make rent payments in your place. This action may place them in a difficult financial situation.

Even worse, their credit will be affected just like yours. Rental contracts with co-signers act as if that person lived in your apartment with you instead of elsewhere. So when you break a lease early, you are breaking a contract and putting your landlord and your co-signer in a terrible situation that will affect both in adverse ways.

In some instances, you may be able to negotiate an early exit from your lease with your landlord by buying out your contract. Even if they let you follow this action, they must advertise for new tenants, clean your apartment, and work with new renters. As a result, they are likely to report your activities to a credit bureau and impact your rating.

Q: Will paying rent on time increase my credit score?

Paying your rent on time every month is always considered a positive activity. However, it will only affect your credit in specific circumstances. For example, your landlord has to send this information to the credit bureaus for it to count. Once reported, it will stay on your report and continue to build up positive credit, just like regular credit card payments.

As a result, those with a 650 credit score may be able to boost their score simply by being a responsible renter. Therefore, it is wise to talk to your landlord about their rental payment reporting policies. If they aren't able or willing to report consistent rental payments to credit bureaus, it might be wise to look for a different apartment. After all, it would help if you were trying to boost your score in any way possible.

Q: Can I self-report rent payments to credit bureaus?

If you have consistently made a year or more of payments on an apartment, you may feel like you deserve better credit than you had before you started renting. Unfortunately, you cannot self-report your positive actions to a credit bureau. That's because bureaus don't take self-reports as proof that you've shown positive spending behavior. In fact, they are more likely to reject the information you send them.

Thankfully, more and more apartment complexes are making regular credit reports. And more credit score types are including these types of positive payment actions. FICO 9 and VantageScore are two scoring methods integrating regular rent payments into their scoring models. As a result, it is a good idea to get these kinds of reports done when applying for loans or buying cars.

Q: Should I get credit cards to improve my credit score while renting?

While it is true that paying off credit cards can improve your credit score, it might not be wise to get new ones after getting into an apartment. That's because new credit cards don't expand your credit type. If you already own one or more cards, you are merely adding a different source of revolving credit to your account.

Revolving credit is a type that occurs when you have a cyclical payment cycle with no definite end date. Renting an apartment is an installment type because your payment period lasts the length of the lease. Even better, getting into month-to-month payments doesn't change this fact. That's because your agreed payment period is just the current month, rather than six months or even a year.

As a result, adding a new credit card to your account isn't likely to improve your score. The only way it might is when it expands your available credit limit. Adding a new card will automatically extend your available credit and decrease your credit usage percentage. In some instances, this may help to increase your credit score. However, it is probably best to avoid new revolving credit sources as much as possible.

Renting An Apartment with a 650 Credit is possible!

As you can see, the process of getting an apartment with a 650 credit score is not impossible. In fact, there is a strong chance that finding a place to live with this rating can be a major turning point in your life. If you can continually make your payments on time, there is an excellent chance that your credit will improve exponentially.

As this happens, you will find that more landlords and apartment complexes are willing to take a chance on you as a renter. This fact may allow you to move to bigger and better places and experience a more comfortable living style. It can even better put you in a position to experience a variety of positive benefits that you can't get in any other way. For example, you may find that you can move into nicer neighborhoods and apartments with pools, central air, and many other benefits.

Make sure that you do what you can to get into a high-quality apartment with a 650 credit score. You might find yourself settling in comfortably and enjoying your new living situation. Just as importantly, you will improve your credit score and set yourself up for the chance to potentially buy a house. While that action may not be available just yet, it is one that is well worth considering once your credit is high enough. And owning a home is a big part of the American Dream for just about everybody.


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Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.