Almost everyone has some debt; it’s just a part of life. But when you have to deal with an account that is past due, things can get somewhat more complicated. If you’re already behind on your bills, it’s hard to convince a potential landlord to allow you to rent an apartment with collections with promises that you’ll be a good tenant. Still, there is a chance.
Can I rent an apartment with collections?
You can still get an apartment to rent even if you have to deal with debt collectors. Independent landlords usually have more flexibility than companies that manage properties.
Check your credit score ahead of time. Your credit score and, by extension, your reputation as a renter can be hurt by debt. Before letting you move in, most landlords will check your credit score. However, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires them to get your permission before they can look at your credit report.¹
If your credit score is low, find out before you search for an apartment. You’ll need to check with the three major credit bureaus, including Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to make sure none of them have any mistakes. Here, you can get your free annual report.
If there are debts that you don’t recognize, double-check them to make sure they are real debts that you owe. However, if these debts appear on your report by mistake, you can have the credit reporting agency take them off.
1. Get yourself a guarantor.
You’ll have a better chance of getting an apartment to rent if you can find someone to vouch for how responsible you are with money. This could be a family member, friend, or employer who trusts you enough to sign the rental agreement with you.
Most of the time, the guarantor is someone whose finances are in order and who does not have any debts being collected. When you are backed up by a reliable person, the landlord is more likely to trust you.
Do note that the landlord can go after your guarantor if you don’t keep your end of the deal. It’s a big responsibility, and if you don’t pay your rent, your guarantor might have to pay your debt or hurt their own credit score. Unfortunately, that can hurt your personal relationship if you don’t pay the rent on your own before you ask someone to do that for you.
2. Offer a larger security deposit
Most landlords want you to pay the same amount as one month’s rent. But if you have a lot of debt, you should offer to pay higher than the minimum security deposit. You can even pay up to three months’ worth of rent or more to help you rent an apartment with collections on your record. Don’t forget that collections stay on your record for 7 years.²
3. Boost your chances with recommendation letters
Even if you’re behind on your bills, that doesn’t make you a bad tenant. You can show that you can be trusted by getting letters of recommendation from past landlords. These letters show the potential landlord that paying rent has always been your top priority, no matter how much money you had or didn’t have.
Even your current boss might be able to help. Just have them write a letter to your landlord saying that your job is secure. If the landlord knows you won’t be having money problems soon, they may be willing to look at your application.
Tough times happen at any time, but if you can show that you can be trusted, you can still rent an apartment with collections.
4. Think about renting out smaller homes
Consider mom-and-pop landlords who own their own apartments because they tend to be flexible with the kinds of tenants they allow. Since they’re not part of big companies, it’s easier to connect with them on a personal level.
Even if they find out you have debt, you can talk to them in person about it. You might want to write a letter to explain how you got behind on your bills. Perhaps, you fell behind because you lost your job, got divorced, or got sick for a long time, among other things. The landlord may be more likely to understand your situation.
5. Try improving your earnings
If you make more money, you can quickly get back on track with paying off your debts. Show the potential landlord that your income has gone up and that you can now pay rent without any trouble. Here are some ways to make more money:
- Making money from your hobby
- Trying to get a second job
- Selling assets you don’t need
- Rent a place that costs less. If your income is three times or more than the amount of rent, you should be able to keep up with your bills.
Granted, it can be difficult to rent an apartment with collections, but it’s not impossible either. You just need to find the best choice to go with.
- Fair Credit Reporting Act: What you need to know. CapitalOne
- When does debt fall off your credit report? Bankrate