I recently spoke to a friend who needed to find a new apartment to rent without good credit. Since the majority of NY rentals require a credit check, having a bad score or no credit history is a real disadvantage given the competition for desirable housing. Here is what I emailed her. She said it helped her find a place so hopefully someone else can find this useful.

– Do you have steady employment? You will almost certainly be asked for an employment letter anyway so be sure to have that. Beyond that, if you are in a situation where your boss or company might be able to vouch for you that would be helpful.
– Do you have cash? Offering to the landlord to pay more of the rent up front or to provide more of a security deposit would put most landlords at ease and show them you are sincere.
– Look for a share situation where someone else already has a lease and you can rent a bedroom or part of their house
– Look for apartments with private landlords, not big companies, where you can speak directly to the decision maker and appeal to them. Avoid big rental companies, avoid agents as they will have specific requirements to qualify
– Ask everyone you know if they know someone looking for a tenant or for moving out of an apartment and can recommend you to the landlord personally
– Have lots of references handy. In particular if you can contact your past landlords. Work references, particularly former bosses, are also good

Once you have managed to find a place, be sure to pay your rent on time and build a good repoire with your landlord / property manager. Every rental from now on will probably ask you for a letter form your previous landlord stating that you were a good tenant. And if you can, start building your credit history or repairing your credit score little by little. Showing a marked improvement in a year or two could make a difference even if its not an ideal score.

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