Rentals in New York>Question Details

Heather Dileo, Renter in Bronx, NY

What is the best way to find an apartment where a fair credit score is acceptable?

Asked by Heather Dileo, Bronx, NY Wed Jan 9, 2013

In 2006 I declared bankruptcy to consolidate my student loans, which I had foolishly allowed to go into default. I have only a fair credit score as a result. I have been renting in New York since 2008 and have an unblemished renting history here and before than in Chicago. I make $60K per year and have had my job for 18 months. I'm willing to live in almost any area, but really would like to have my own studio or one bedroom. I'm in my 30s and have had a hard time finding a roommate that I enjoy living with. How do I find landlords, brokers or property managers out there who will consider my previous landlord references, income and so on and look beyond my credit score? I am able to pay a larger deposit (I cannot go beyond two or perhaps three months' rent).

Thanks for your suggestions.

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Joseph Hastings’ answer
Hi Heather. What do you consider a "fair" credit score? To be sure, your Bankruptcy is the biggest red flag an owner can see. It tells them you mismanaged your money to the point where you made no payments on your accounts and when faced squarely with the problem, you chose to discharge as many of them as you possibly could by filing bankruptcy. If you were faced with this type of renter and you were a landlord, would you welcome them with open arms?

Fast forward 12 years plus down the road. Your question seems to preclude using a broker. I suspect you don't want to pay a commission. I wonder what your current liabilities are. No doubt landlords will consider every aspect of the prospective renter. That means work history/consistency, income, assets, references and of course credit history. BTW, an owner willing to pay the broker should not be a red flag. Some do it because they want to rent as fast as possible full stop. Good luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 10, 2013
Each landlord is different, therefore consider being up front regarding your credit; be prepared to show proof of employment/pay stubs, possibly some reference letters, etc., or consider a guarantor....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 9, 2013
Hi, Every landlord will handle this in their own way. If you are interested in a building that is run by a management company who makes the decisions then call ahead and ask what they will accept. I've found many people are forgiving if you can prove you have been on the mend for some time. I find many for rent by owners don't even ask for credit scores. Typically listings through a broker will require it, so just ask on a case by case basis.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 9, 2013
Most of the landlords I work with rent apartments on a case by case basis. I work with lots of students who have no credit because they haven't had a chance to establish it due to age, or they are from a foreign country.

Landlords bottom line is exactly that, the bottom line. They want to know how will you pay your rent, that is income and how stable you are in your present employment.

It is mostly management companies that will give you a hard time on your credit.

If you have bad credit, can show you are trying to improve it and can explain the negatives, that is in your favor. Honesty, is always the best policy in that situation. As a broker, I appreciate it and so will a potential landlord.

If I can be of any further help, please give me a call, 917-335-8569, or send an email.

Erika Roberts
Associate Broker
Diversified RCS
421 Seventh Avenue
NY, NY 10001
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 9, 2013
Please contact me for assistance. My name is Tanuja and I can be reached at 347-882-0353. Thank you and good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 9, 2013
While your credit score is important, landlords generally do not make a determination based on that alone. Employment history, length of time at your current job, income, and references all play an equally important (if not more important) part. The fact that you would be willing to put down a larger deposit, and/or pre-pay a few months will definitely help also.

My suggestion would be to be as honest as possible when applying. Write a short letter to accompany the application, detailing your situation and the circumstances that are "driving" your less than perfect credit score.

As a rental property owner myself, I understand that it's unrealistic to expect everyone to have an 800 credit score. If someone applied who had an unpaid medical bill 5 years ago on their credit report, I'm going to obviously weigh that differently than someone who has recently racked up 5 credit cards and is running from creditors.

Everyone makes mistakes. My credit report was haunted for years by a check I bounced in college from a pizza I ordered at 2AM. Explain your situation - and highlight the fact that you have sufficient income and stellar references from previous landlords. That would, in my opinion, carry much more weight than a mistake you made 6 years ago. The landlord really just wants to know that at the end of the day that currently, you will be able, and willing, to pay your rent when due every month.

Hope that helps!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 9, 2013
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