debts and rental apartments
Hi! I am a woman serving in the U.S. Air Force.
Currently, I am stationed in Misawa, Japan. However, I will be returning stateside
in May and will need to find an apartment to rent upon my return. I am currently
on the long road to recovering from bad credit. I understand that a poor credit
rating can lessen your chance for finding rental property. Does being in the military
(they more or less force one to pay rent bills on time) help negate the consequences
of this situation? Are there any rental agencies/steps you would recommend I take
to help me with this situation? Thank you for your time! -- Kristen
My hat is off to all of you who are helping
to keep our country free. You deserve better than bad credit; so let's see what
we can do! You are correct that a poor credit rating can affect your ability to
rent property. It can also affect your military security clearance, future employment
opportunities and even your ability to obtain insurance.
to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, if an adverse action such as denying you a rental
is taken due to the information provided in your credit report, the person or
company taking that action must provide a pre-adverse action disclosure that gives
you access to a free copy of your credit report and "A Summary of Your Rights
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act."
Now that you have
the above information, let's discuss how you can get into an apartment when you
get back to the states in May. The first thing you should know is that many people
have dings on their credit history and apartment complexes would be empty if the
only people allowed to move in had stellar credit. Also, many smaller landlords
do not pull credit reports at all. With them, your uniform and a deposit may be
all the credit you need!
You state that you are "on a
long road to recovering from bad credit." If that means you are paying your
debts on time and not adding to your current debt load, the on-time payment history
you are establishing may have already gone a long ways toward improving your
Here are the steps you requested:
Obtain your credit reports from all three credit bureaus and check them for accuracy
as soon as possible. Dispute any inaccurate information and make sure you have
done everything you can to improve the 'bad' spots. As an example, pay any charged
off accounts where possible and bring any late accounts current.
2. If you are currently renting in Japan, get a letter from your
landlord recommending you or at least saying that you have been paying on time
and have been a good tenant. Whether you are renting or not, ask your commanding
officer for a letter of recommendation that indicates your good character.
When applying for an apartment, be honest about your less-than-perfect credit
history if asked or if you are told a credit report will be checked. Being upfront
with your potential landlord may move you from the 'bad' risk to 'good risk' category.
Landlords are often more interested in your previous payment history with other
landlords than your credit history in general. Your military service may be just
the ticket to reassure a potential landlord that you will honor your rental agreement.
Be aware that with your credit history you may be offered an apartment, but with
different requirements than other renters. You may be required to put down a larger
deposit or pay a slightly higher rent than another applicant. Before signing a
lease, be sure you understand all the terms and then decide if those terms are
Good luck Kristen and welcome home!
Debt Adviser, Steve Bucci, is the president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service
of Southern New England. Visit CCCS
for additional debt
advice or click
here to ask a debt question.