Checking Your Credit Score for a Home Purchase or Renting an Apartment

Have you found a great home or apartment and already filled out the application for it? On top of your deposit, many landlords check credit reports before agreeing to sell or rent out their properties. These credit scores give landlords a good idea of whether you’ll be a good homeowner or tenant that pays on time. Initially, this is what is a credit check is for, and in which case, a personal credit check will definitely come handy.

How to Check Your Credit Record

If you are asking yourself “How to check my credit record,” you may do so online and for free. (You may even do a soft pull credit check aka “soft inquiry,” a credit card check without affecting credit score.)

The three top credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – report credit scores between 300 and 850. For most, credit scores of 650 or better are perfect for prospective tenants or homeowners. However, certain areas with a more concentrated number of buyers may have a requirement of at least a score of 700.

Still, it’s entirely possible to own or rent a place if your credit score is lower than 650, however. You may not be able to qualify for certain promotions, such as “one month free” deals if you do have bad credit. The landlord or lender may ask for a larger security deposit as well.

(READ: Your Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage Rate)

Reviewing your credit reports will give you a good idea of what you should do to improve your scores before applying for your new home or apartment. Someone with good credit is able to negotiate specific leasing conditions when signing a lease agreement. Therefore, you should figure out your credit standing by addressing the areas for improvement in your reports. Note, you may even improve or lower your credit simply by closing credit cards.

What to Do If You Have Bad Credit

If you currently have bad credit, you could also write down the reasons for your bad credit score directly in your tenant or mortgage loan application. However doing this, it will be best to offer up character references for the landlord, lender, or seller.

The least attractive method for obtaining an apartment or home with poor credit is to rely on a family member or friend to cosign the lease or mortgage. Nonetheless, this remains to be the last resort.

Getting your credit report from the three agencies above is incredibly easy and will provide numerous benefits. Not only can you stay notified of any changes to your account history, but you will also be able to protect your identity and continuously maintain good credit.

You definitely don’t have to have good credit to lease an apartment, but it is a must for buying a home as it helps you get pre-approved for a loan as well as lower your mortgage rate.

Before you start applying for anything, make sure you first understand what your credit standing is.