We all understand how important it is to know how credit scores work and how they affect buying a home but what if you are looking to rent? Does having bad credit affect your ability to rent an apartment? Yes it does. There are ways to get around it, but it will be more work and may end up costing you more (whether this is legal or not depends on your province). Also, you may need to look in neighbourhoods you would not consider as your first choice and may be further away from your work or your children’s schools.

Rental agencies are almost guaranteed to use a check credit service and you will see on your application form a box for your Social Insurance Number inclusion. You are within your rights not to fill this in, but from experience I know that it is unlikely you will be considered for the suite, as it makes running a credit check more tedious. Additionally, each credit check costs the rental agency, so your application will likely be removed from prospective renters pile almost immediately after you leave the Open House or showing.

So what can you do if you have bad credit, a bankruptcy or consumer proposal on your credit report? As I have written in previous blogs, it is so important to know what is on your credit report and ensure that it is accurate. That way, if the prospective landlord questions you about any aspect of your credit report, you will be prepared.

Here are three tips that will assist you in your search for a rental unit:

  • Start close to home. Ask your friends and family if they have heard of any rental units coming available through people in their workplace or associates. Often a verbal reference is all you need with a landlord who is looking for a no-fuss rental process.
  • Join a Facebook group or online forum that is all about rentals in your city. Members of these groups use word-of-mouth to keep up with availability and will often post their own suites which are coming available or have a friend who is breaking a lease and needs to find a new tenant asap to help them with their Landlord.
  • Look for Rentals that do not require credit check. Skip using a real estate agent and the rental agencies, and proceed immediately to zumper.com (formerly padmapper.com) or craigslist.org. Look for apartments that are family owned, suites within residential homes (basement, lane-way, attic), and smaller older apartment buildings. All of which are less likely to utilize the services of an agency and/or run credit checks. Walking the neighbourhood, where you wish to live, looking for hand-made For Rent signs, is another way to tell if a Landlord not leaving rentals to a paid third-party.

Landlords that do not run credit checks are often more impressed with proof of steady income (bring pay stubs or latest T4 slip), a previous landlord(s) willing to provide a reference – either in writing or by telephone, business/personal references and sometimes being respectful and punctual is the difference between being considered for a new place to live or not.

Finding a place to live with bad credit is not impossible and if you know that you will be moving in the near future, it is never too soon to start looking.

Final Tip: Always arrive prepared! Bring a pen (or two), as there will be a multi-page application form to fill out – and a print out of all the information that you will need for the application. For those new to the process, application forms may ask for extensive past addresses including postal codes, current and past employer names, addresses, and phone numbers, personal and non-personal references with their addresses and phone numbers, and so on. Having a sheet already prepared with this information will speed up the application process and take much of the stress out of the application process.


Helen Siwak is Editor-in-Chief of BLUSHVancouver & EcoLuvLux Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle contributor to Daily Hive (VancityBuzz) | West Coast contributor to Retail-Insider | contributing writer for Marble Financial.