College Apartment Credit Check: Do I Need a Cosigner?

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When it’s time for new students to look for a college apartment, some of the routine questions involved in the housing hunt may need a different approach. One of these is the idea of having a cosigner to back up the tenant’s financial and credit history. If you’re a single worker looking for an apartment in a non-college area, you will almost always have to prove credit worthiness or get a cosigner. With college housing, there’s a little more to it than that.

Shared College Housing and Group Leases

Some college students feel they need their own apartment unit, but many others choose to live with friends or even strangers, usually other college students, in a group apartment or housing unit. Sometimes, in these situations, the property renter will draw up a group lease that looks different than a standard lease agreement.

At least one of the students involved will still be on the hook for the rent money, but in many cases, the landlord doesn’t really keep track of the number of occupants, and the group as a whole might sublet rooms out for a semester or two. If you’re a credit-challenged student, try one of these sublease ideas and avoid the hassle of conventional renting.

Housing by Owner

Another common scenario in college housing is where a renting student looks for an informal “rent by owner” situation. In some of these cases, you may be renting  a “negligible” space such as a basement, spare room or upstairs space that doesn’t really require a credit check. You might even rent a whole apartment unit without a credit check if you can  satisfy the concerns of the renter just by talking to them. All of these situations can help you avoid a credit check and the need for a cosigner.

Bad Credit? You May Need a Cosigner

If you are a student looking for housing on your own, and you lack a solid credit history, you may need someone to act as a cosigner. Lots of younger people lack the requisite paper trail to satisfy lenders or landlords. Any kind of credit card debt, etc. can also hurt your credit score.

In college housing situations, a cosigner setup is usually pretty easy, especially when parents are already paying for some of the costs of education. If you’re a college student going it alone, it can be tough, but using student loan money judiciously can help you ride out the low-income college years. Think about all of the above when you’re out looking for housing, and don’t be afraid to seek out some of the more informal living arrangements if you’re having trouble renting a unit based on your credit history. Although it does take some good judgment and, sometimes, a lot of compromise, living among other students can have its distinct advantages when you’re far away from home.

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