If your credit is not that great right now, but you need to find a place to live, there are some ways around a bad credit score.
Look for a Private Rental
Try to stay away from apartment complexes or single-home rentals that are managed by really large rental agencies. Large rental agencies tend to have the resources to run credit checks on all applicants and often disregard an applicant if they have a low credit score.
Instead, stick to smaller rental agencies or private landlords who do not run credit checks, but instead rely on other methods to verify your ability to pay. Look for rental agencies and private landlords that ask for pay stubs and bank account statements instead of running a credit check to determine your ability to pay.
Come Prepared With a Large Deposit
Another way to get around a poor credit score is to let the apartment manager know upfront that you have the money to put down a larger-than-usual deposit. Stating upfront that you can put down a deposit equal to a month or two worth of rent could help demonstrate that you have the means to pay the rent being asked.
You can also offer to put down a deposit and pay both first and last months rent upfront, even if that is not required for the complex. This will show that you have the means to pay the rent before the apartment manager is turned off by your credit score.
Bring a Co-Signer
If you know that your credit score is low, bring a co-signer with you. Let the apartment manager know that you will have a co-signer. Make sure that the co-signer has a good credit rating.
You may need to have the co-signer fill out an application form as well so that the apartment manager can run a check on your co-signer. Your co-signer does not have to live with you, they just have to be willing to cover the cost of your rent if you are unable to.
Discuss Your Situation
Finally, if you know that a credit check will be ran on you and you know what the results will be, talk with the apartment manager beforehand and explain your situation. Depending on your situation, the apartment manager may be understanding.
For example, if you lost your job three years ago and your home ended up as a foreclosure, but you have since regained employment and have built up your savings, an apartment manager may be more sympathetic to your situation than someone who just ran up and failed to pay their credit card bills. Sometimes, being honest and upfront about what affected your credit rating, and what you are doing to improve the situation, is all you need to do.
If you do find a place but are later unsure about a rental agreement, consider contacting a real estate lawyer, such as Kolvoord Overton & Wilson, to look it over.