No Rental History, No Problem: A Guide to Securing an Apartment Without Rental History

Updated on September 6th, 2023

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In the dynamic housing landscape, having no rental history can often feel like a roadblock when seeking your ideal home. Whether you’re a first-time renter or moving to a new city like Albany, NY, the absence of a rental history might seem daunting. However, this unique situation shouldn’t deter you from finding a place that suits your needs and aspirations. 

If you’re in the market for apartments or unsure where to begin, this Redfin article is here to help. We’ll walk you through everything from building trust with landlords to proving your financial stability, giving you the tools you need to snag that perfect apartment, even if you’re starting from scratch. Get ready to navigate the renting journey with confidence.

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What is rental history?

Rental history is like a report card for your time as a tenant. It records where you’ve lived before, how long you stayed, if you paid your rent on time, and how you treated the place. Landlords use this history to decide if you’re a reliable renter. If your previous renting experiences have been positive and you’ve maintained a good track record, it’s akin to receiving a vote of confidence from landlords.

Where to start with no rental history

When faced with a lack of rental history, beginning your housing journey requires a strategic approach. The initial step should involve assessing your financial standing and gathering relevant documentation demonstrating your reliability. Creating a comprehensive rental resume detailing your employment history, references, and other positive credentials can establish this credibility.

What are ways to get approved with no rental history?

Applying for an apartment without a rental history can be challenging. However, there are ways to increase your chances of approval.

1. Provide references

Getting people who know you well, like friends, coworkers, or bosses, to vouch for you can be essential if you don’t have a rental history. These references can tell landlords that you’re trustworthy, can manage money responsibly, and take care of places. Having these references can make landlords more confident about renting to you and improve your chances of getting the apartment.

2. Have a co-signer or guarantor

If you don’t have rental history, it’s a good idea to have a co-signer like a family member or a guarantor. They give the landlord extra financial security.

A co-signer pays rent if you can’t. A guarantor fulfills your lease responsibilities. This setup makes sure the landlord gets paid on time and things go smoothly, even if you don’t have a renting history.  As a result, you become a more reliable tenant. 

Friends living together
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3. Show that you have financial stability

Demonstrating that you are financially stable is crucial when you lack rental history. This helps landlords feel confident that you’ll be able to pay the rent on time. Showing pay stubs, employment verification, or bank statements proves you have enough money to pay your monthly bills.

4. Pay a higher security deposit

A larger security deposit gives landlords a sense of financial security in case of potential issues. This extra money upfront shows you’re serious about taking care of the place and can ease their concerns about renting to someone without much history.

5. Explain your situation

Explaining your situation to the landlord is important, as it provides context and transparency when you lack rental history. Sharing reasons for your lack of history, such as transitioning from living with family or moving to a new area, helps landlords understand your circumstances. 

6. Offer prepaid rent

When you’re new to renting, putting down money for several months’ rent ahead of time can be really convincing. It makes landlords feel more at ease because it means they’re not taking as much financial risk. Plus, it shows you’re really serious about sticking to the lease agreement.

Apartment terrace
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7. Highlight a good credit score

When you’re new to renting, having a strong credit score works in your favor. A high credit score reflects your history of repaying debts on time and managing credit responsibly. It’s a concrete way to show that you’re responsible with money and can handle financial commitments well.

8. Meet the landlord in person

A face-to-face interaction lets you showcase your professionalism, responsibility, and genuine interest in the property. This can be a big factor in their decision-making, as it helps them build trust and could even boost your chances of getting the apartment.

9. Apply to apartments with smaller landlords or private individuals 

These landlords often have more flexibility in their tenant selection process and may be more open to considering applicants without an established rental record. Their decision-making might be based on personal interactions, references, and other factors beyond rental history.

Apartment complex
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How to find an apartment: 8 steps for success 

Now that you know the process of securing a rental approval with no rental history, here are the steps you need to find an apartment.

1. Set a budget. Using tools like a rent affordability calculator will help you budget to find a rental that aligns with your financial capabilities.

2. Define your needs and wants. Prioritize the amenities that are essential for your comfort and lifestyle.

3. Explore different neighborhoods. Choosing the right apartment involves exploring various neighborhoods. Each area has its own vibe and amenities. Visiting different neighborhoods helps you find the right fit for your lifestyle and preferences.

4. Use online platforms to find rental properties. When you’re on the hunt for an apartment, online rental platforms are your best friend. Redfin and allow you to browse through numerous properties, tailor your search according to preferences, and access specific information about each property.

5. Contact property managers and landlords. Ask questions about rental terms and requirements, and establish a direct line of communication to expedite securing your desired rental.

6. Tour apartments. Apartment touring gives you the chance to see the space in person, assess its condition, and envision yourself living there. During the tour, pay attention to details like layout, lighting, and storage space. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about maintenance, utilities, and the neighborhood.

7. Apply for your dream home. Submit your rental application, including necessary documents and contact information, to the landlord or property manager. They will run a background check and credit check to see if you qualify.

8. Sign the lease. Once you’ve been approved, make sure to review the rental agreement thoroughly before signing your lease.

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

Ana de Guzman

Ana is part of the content marketing team and enjoys writing about home improvement and life & style. Her dream house would be a Mediterranean style home featuring expansive windows.

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