If you don’t know your credit score, it’s an important piece of information about you – one that is vital to understand, assess and improve, if needed. Your credit score functions as a vital part of the apartment screening process, and will be used to determine whether or not you are a safe credit risk for the property management firm.
How to find your score? Pulling a credit report on yourself is easy, but you should exercise caution – the number of reports that are requested for you can reduce your score. Numerous free online services are available to provide you with an up-to-the-minute report (just input “free credit report” into your favorite search engine). You’ll also be able to see whether creditors or background check companies have asked for your score.
So, what is considered a “good” score, one that won’t jeopardize your chances of getting that apartment you want so much? If your score is in the range of 620-720 (or above) you will probably be approved for that apartment. Under 620? You are going to have trouble.
If your credit score is low, it is likely due to late payment or non-payment of bills, defaulting on loans, multiple late bill payments, repossession of a vehicle, closure of accounts by creditors, bouncing checks with your bank, foreclosure of a house, or other financial transactions that were not handled appropriately. You can build your credit score up if it is weak or problematic, but it may take a long time and jeopardize your apartment renting chances in the meantime. You’ll need to pay bills on time, eliminate bad debt and establish a strong track record of good financial habits to improve the score.
Private party landlords are often less concerned about your score and may take a risk on a tenant without pulling a credit report. Property management firms are more cautious, are seeking qualified tenants, and almost always run screening on prospective residents.