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How to Get a Rental Property Regardless of Credit

As a property manager I would say that there are times that I want to pull my hair out (what little I have) with the amount of potential tenants that visit properties and just simply aren’t prepared to be good sound considerable tenants. This doesn’t mean that every prospect should have a credit score over 700, but it also doesn’t mean that is should be in the 300’s with 1001 excuses as to why.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Studies show there are several reasons why people are choosing to rent versus buying a home; such as low savings or high debt, low-income, and lack of access to credit. In today’s rental market where rental rates are flying through the roof, these are some of the same reasons that could also prevent someone from renting a property. BUT there are others factors which can be considered by owners and management companies that potential tenants should always keep in mind when striving to demonstrate they are a good prospect to consider for tenancy.

Lets review the list that could possible help when your credit is not so great, and your income is slightly less than 3:1 (not much less).


As an HR professional, I consider showing a house to a potential tenant similar to giving a job interview ; there are certain things an interviewer (owner/manager) like myself, is looking for:

  • Showing Up on Time: If your appointment (interview) is at 2 pm, it best to show up at 1:50 pm and wait for the realtor, owner or property manager to arrive. Showing up late with multiple excuses can portray lack of responsibility and the potential for the rent to be late with multiple excuses.
  • Dress: Dress appropriately when going to discuss business with someone you are trying to  obtain something from; in this case, a home. Would you show up to a job interview with rollers in your hair, alcohol on your breath, smelling like cigarettes when the company has a no smoking policy? So why show up to see a property in any of these conditions. It sends a bad impression and first impressions are extremely hard to overcome. No one is saying come dressed in your 3 piece suit or ball gown, but come clean and presentable.
  • Rambunctious Household: It is against the law to discriminate against renters with children, but not against families that are just loud and crazy. Do not bring the entire family to the showing. If you are hoping to rent a five bedroom home, the expectation from the owner is that it will more than likely be a family. Bring only the ones that will be making the decision. The moment an owner or property manager experiences chaos from the family or extreme amounts of noise before a family moves in, that family could possibly lose it’s opportunity to rent the property.


As stated above there are so many renters in the country today more so because of hardships that prevent them from buying, but even with low credit and other less favorable factors, there are things like your “HISTORY” that can help you.

  • Rental History- Tenants that can demonstrate that they have a long history of renting one property with a good report from the owner of the property or manager, could add some value to their application. Property owners and managers understand that renters will more than likely have low credit which is why other strong factors have to be considered. Having a low credit score doesn’t mean a bad tenant.
  • Work History-This is pet peeve of mine; job hoppers….those folks that have had 6 jobs in 2 years. Job hoppers demonstrate to a property owner or manager a level of instability.  We get it, in today’s world some generations find it worth their time to seek new opportunities often, but by not wanting or being able to hold down a stable job for more than a year, doesn’t appear to the owner or manager that you are someone who is seeking worth wild opportunities. It appears to them that you have the potential to “hop”, jump or skip  from the property once you are bored or want to find a job in another city, state  or country. You will be considered a risk.
  • Criminal History– Yes, if you pull my record you will find that I have a couple speeding violations…..I’m guilty of the slight need for speed, but this will not or should not prevent me or you from getting a rental property. But if your need for speed demonstrates reckless endangerment for the community, than it may. Small violations of the law will not hurt you for the most part but if you have several in most recent of years and they are adding up, it could hurt your rental opportunities. Expungements are not expensive, at least not in Maryland for first timers and minor incidents. The key here is to keep your most recent record clean for at least 5 years. Avoid getting into trouble that could hurt your ability of being perceived as a good potential tenant.

Keep It Clean

A lot of property owners and managers today are doing drive-by’s…meaning they are driving by your current home to see at least your outside living conditions, and many are doing walk-through’s, like we do at SPM. Owners and managers do not want to take the chance of renting to someone who will not take the best care of the rental property, this doesn’t mean that they are expecting a house that shined like gold and smells like Heaven, but it does mean that it should be kept in well, maintained condition, free of holes, broken doors, windows, dirt, filth, and bugs. Not everyone’s expectation of clean is the same but if you know you aren’t clean, try practicing cleanliness first for a little while before venturing out to rent a “decent” property.

As a property management company in the business for years, we really strive to find a great tenant, which reduces our turnover and evictions. Even those with great credit can be horrible tenants and those with bad credit can be awesome tenants, but so many companies only look at credit. Share with those companies that thier is more to you as a tenant than just those three numbers. Ask them to consider looking at the “whole” person and not just the tiny little part that tends to dictate who we are and aren’t, but really only tells a minor part of your story.