What Is the Minimum Credit Score to Rent an Apartment or House?

By Ana Gonzalez-Ribeiro, MBA, AFC®
Published on: 02/20/2023

You may think you need a specific minimum credit score to rent an apartment or house, but in reality, the necessary score can vary by landlord, tenant, location and a variety of other factors.

This post covers what constitutes a good credit score, what goes into credit score calculations and what other information landlords may consider. We will also discuss what to do if a property owner denies your rental application and how to go about improving your credit for future applications.

Table of contents

What is the minimum credit score to rent a house?

The minimum credit score required to rent a house may vary depending on several factors, including the landlord, the current real estate and rental markets, your income and the city or neighborhood in which you plan to live.

If your credit score is in the mid-600s or below, property owners may take a closer look at your credit details. Renters with low credit scores, such as under 600, may have more trouble qualifying for a rental house or apartment. If you do receive approval, you might have to put down a higher security deposit when you sign the lease.[1]

what is the minimum credit score to rent?

To have a credit score calculated in the first place, you must meet a few minimum requirements. A valid FICO® Score requires the following information:

  • At least one credit account opened for six months or more
  • At least one account reported to the credit bureau within the past six months
  • No mention of deceased person on the credit report, which may affect you if you share an account with a person reported as deceased[2]

Around 90% of top lenders use FICO® Scores, making it the most widely utilized credit scoring model. According to MyFICO®, a good credit score falls in the range of 670 to 739.[3]

Rating Credit score range How the credit score is seen by lenders
Poor 580 or lower Because these scores are well below the U.S average, they may reflect that the borrower is a higher risk.
Fair 580–669 Although slightly below the U.S average, lenders may approve loans in this range.
Good 670–729 Being near or slightly above the U.S average, the majority of lenders consider this a good score.
Very Good 740–799 Above the U.S average, scores in this range demonstrate that the borrower is likely to pay back what is owed.
Exceptional 800+ Well above the U.S average, lenders consider borrowers in this range to be very low risk.

While many lenders use the FICO® scoring model to help make decisions, each landlord or property management company has its own way of determining the likelihood that potential renters will pay according to the terms of the lease. For that reason, no universal cutoff or average credit score exists to qualify for a rental unit.

What landlords may consider when screening applicants

In addition to your credit score, landlords can look at a number of factors in determining whether to approve your rental application.

what landlords may consider when screening applicants

Landlords may review your payment history

Potential landlords want assurance that you will be a good tenant who pays the monthly rent in full and on time. They will check your payment history for a solid record of on-time payments.[4] Payment history counts as the most important factor in your FICO® Score, making up 35% of your score.[5]

Landlords may review your total amount of debt

Landlords may review your existing debts to make sure you can afford the monthly rental payments in addition to your other obligations. If you have too many credit cards, loans, such as student loans, or unpaid taxes, potential landlords may see these as red flags.[4] You may want to evaluate how much total debt you carry since “amounts owed” makes up 30% of your FICO® score.[6]

Landlords may review your bankruptcy status

Landlords often review bankruptcies to see if the canceled debts came from prior rental properties. Keep in mind that bankruptcies can stay on your credit report for 7 years for Chapter 13 and 10 years for Chapter 7. If you have a discharged bankruptcy, however, landlords will likely see this as a lower risk than someone currently going through bankruptcy.[4] The impact of a bankruptcy lessens as time goes on.[7]

Landlords may use tenant screening services

Landlords and property management companies may use a specialized tenant screening report to help them evaluate potential renters. Although the information used varies by service, it may include credit reports, rental history (including eviction lawsuits), and a risk score based on criteria selected by the landlord.[8]

Landlords may review additional risk factors

Landlords may consider the following factors in addition to your credit score:

  • Monthly income: Pay stubs, tax forms or employer verification of your income and employment can help landlords know whether you can afford the monthly rental payments. Landlords may sometimes make decisions based mostly on income, regardless of other factors.
  • Criminal history: Landlords may run a criminal background check on future tenants. Past felonies and misdemeanors, pending criminal cases and any outstanding warrants can potentially affect your rental approval.[9]

How to check your credit report before submitting a rental application

By reviewing your credit report, you can check it for inaccuracies and see how you look on paper to potential landlords. Compare what’s listed on your credit report to the specific rental requirements before you fill out a rental application. That way, if a landlord has requirements, such as you needing to have no bankruptcies listed on your credit report, you can be sure your report meets the criteria before you apply and have them run your credit with a hard inquiry.

You can receive a free report once a year from the major credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also check your credit report at any time for a fee by contacting any of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). These companies cannot legally charge you more than $13.50 for each report.[10]

What to do if your application was denied

By law, landlords must provide an “adverse action” notification to the prospective tenant explaining why they rejected the application.[11] If you receive a denial, the following steps may help you get future applications on track.

what to do if your rental application was denied

Review your credit report for inaccuracies

If you didn’t look over a copy of your credit report before submitting your rental application — or even if you did — now would be a great time for you to check it out and catch any errors or review the negative information that the landlord may have seen. If you haven’t already received your free yearly report, you can do so at AnnualCreditReport.com or through Experian, Equifax and TransUnion directly for a fee. If you find a mistake on your credit report, you may want to contact the potential landlord to explain the situation and see if they will reconsider their decision.[10]

Review your tenant screening report for any inaccuracies

As a tenant or rental applicant, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you rights when your rental application is denied in what is called an “adverse action.” Among your rights, the landlord must supply you with the contact information (name, address and phone number) of the screening company and give you notice that you have 60 days to request a free copy of your tenant screening report. Review the report for any incorrect or outdated information. If it contains an error, you can dispute it.[12]

By law, you have the right to dispute any inaccurate information on your screening report and have it corrected. The credit reporting company generally has 30 to 45 days to investigate your dispute, but it may vary by state.[12] The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also provides dispute forms for you to use.[13]

Apply for a different property that fits your budget

If a landlord rejected your rental application, you may decide to look for a different rental property that fits your budget and credit score range. Start by calculating your rent to income ratio to get an idea of what you can afford.[14] You may also want to contact the prospective landlord before you apply to confirm their minimum requirements.

Work on improving your credit score

If the property owner denied your application due to poor credit, consider working to build a better credit score. Although you can’t obtain a higher credit score overnight, with some patience, the following steps may help you gradually lift your credit score:

  • Review your credit report regularly. Monitoring your credit report helps you spot errors and keep track of negative information that may impact your score.[10]
  • Pay your bills on time. As the most important factor in your credit score, payment history helps assure potential landlords that you’re more likely to avoid late payments and will pay in full.[5]
  • Pay off any remaining debts. Even if you pay your bills on time, having a high amount of debt may affect both your credit score and your ability to have your rental application accepted. Carrying a lot of debt may cause potential landlords to wonder whether you can afford to make timely rental payments when you have other financial obligations.[6]
  • Keep your credit utilization low. Your credit utilization ratio (CUR) refers to the amount of your revolving credit balances divided by your total credit limit. Experts suggest keeping your CUR under 30%, but ideally less than 10%.[15] A high CUR may impact your amounts owed, which accounts for 30% of your FICO® Score.[6]

Alternative ways to rent with bad credit

If you have a lower credit score, the following strategies may help improve your chances of renting a house or apartment.

  • Gather letters of reference: Recommendations from credible sources (previous landlords, roommates or employers) may help bolster your case.[4]
  • Gather proof of income: W-2 tax forms, bank statements or pay stubs going back several months can indicate that you have stable employment.[14] [16]
  • Find someone who is willing to be a cosigner or guarantor: If you can’t qualify to rent an apartment on your own, a friend or family member with a better credit history might improve your chances. Cosigners generally sign the lease and have the right to live in the rental unit with you and are responsible for paying rent. Guarantors, on the other hand, vouch to pay your rent in the event you default but have no rights to the house or apartment.[17]
  • Offer a higher security deposit: Paying a larger security deposit or more months of rent upfront might reassure your landlord while you work to prove your creditworthiness.[4]

How does renting impact your credit score?

Rent payments generally do not appear on your credit report unless you use a third-party rent-reporting service such as Self. If you have several months of unpaid rental debt, however, your landlord may have sent it to collections, which means the collections account may end up on your credit report.[18]

Having outstanding debts — rental or other kinds — sent to collections can negatively impact your credit score and may remain on your credit report for up to seven years.[20] You generally won’t see evictions on credit reports, but they can stay on your public records for up to seven years.[20]

Looking to build your credit?

If you believe better credit will help you rent a home — you can take steps to rebuild your credit or start building a credit score. If you don’t know where to start, Self offers tools that can help you build credit, build savings and arm you with information that help you understand how to handle your credit decisions.

Disclaimer: FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Issac Corporation in the United States and other countries.


  1. MyFICO. “What Do Landlords Look for in a Credit Check?” https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/blog/credit-score-to-rent-apartment. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  2. MyFICO. “What are the minimum requirements for a FICO® Score?” https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/faq/scores/fico-score-requirements. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  3. MyFICO. “What is a Credit Score?” https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/credit-scores. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  4. Experian. “What Do Landlords Look For in a Tenant?” https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/what-do-landlords-look-for-in-tenant/. Accessed on January 19, 2023.
  5. MyFICO. “What is Payment History?” https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/credit-scores/payment-history. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  6. MyFICO. “What is Amounts Owed?” https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/credit-scores/amount-of-debt. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  7. MyFICO. “What Are the Different Types of Bankruptcy and How Is Each Considered by My FICO® Score?” https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/faq/negative-reasons/bankruptcy-types. Accessed on October 26. 2022.
  8. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “What is a tenant screening report?” https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-a-tenant-screening-report-en-2102/. Accessed on January 19, 2023.
  9. Experian. “How to Check Your Rental History Report,” https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-to-check-your-rental-history-report. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  10. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “How do I get a copy of my credit reports?” https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/how-do-i-get-a-copy-of-my-credit-reports-en-5. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  11. Federal Trade Commission. “Using Consumer Reports for Credit Decisions: What to Know About Adverse Action and Risk-Based Pricing Notices,” https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/using-consumer-reports-credit-decisions-what-know-about-adverse-action-risk-based-pricing-notices#action. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  12. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “What should I do if my rental application is denied due to a tenant screening report?” https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-should-i-do-if-my-rental-application-is-denied-due-to-a-tenant-screening-report-en-2105. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  13. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “How do I dispute an error on my credit report?” https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/how-do-i-dispute-an-error-on-my-credit-report-en-314. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  14. Experian. “How to Get Approved for an Apartment,” https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-to-get-approved-for-apartment. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  15. MyFICO. “What Should My Credit Utilization Ratio Be?” https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/blog/credit-utilization-be. Accessed on October 26, 2022.
  16. Experian. “What Do Landlords Look For in a Tenant?” https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/what-do-landlords-look-for-in-tenant. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  17. Experian. “Can You Use a Cosigner to Get an Apartment?” https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/can-you-use-cosigner-to-get-apartment. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  18. Experian. “Is My Rental History on My Credit Report?” https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/is-my-rental-history-on-my-credit-report. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  19. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “My debt is several years old. Can debt collectors still collect?” https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/my-debt-is-several-years-old-can-debt-collectors-still-collect-en-1423. Accessed on October 17, 2022.
  20. Experian. “How Long Does an Eviction Stay on Your Record?” https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-long-does-eviction-stay-on-report/. Accessed October 26, 2022.

About the author

Ana Gonzalez-Ribeiro, MBA, AFC® is an Accredited Financial Counselor® and a Bilingual Personal Finance Writer and Educator dedicated to helping populations that need financial literacy and counseling. Her informative articles have been published in various news outlets and websites including Huffington Post, Fidelity, Fox Business News, MSN and Yahoo Finance. She also founded the personal financial and motivational site www.AcetheJourney.com and translated into Spanish the book, Financial Advice for Blue Collar America by Kathryn B. Hauer, CFP. Ana teaches Spanish or English personal finance courses on behalf of the W!SE (Working In Support of Education) program has taught workshops for nonprofits in NYC.

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Our goal at Self is to provide readers with current and unbiased information on credit, financial health, and related topics. This content is based on research and other related articles from trusted sources. All content at Self is written by experienced contributors in the finance industry and reviewed by an accredited person(s).

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Written on February 20, 2023
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