Roommate with bad credit

By Amelia

Hi there…i am about to move into my first apartment. it’s a two-bedroom half house, and since it is a two bedroom, i need to get a Roommate. the original person who was going to be moving in with me flaked at the very last minute, leaving me to sign a lease and pay the security deposit entirely by myself. (I know that was probably a bad idea, however, please hear me out) I found a suitable person to take over the room my original housemate-to-be vacated, but the problem was that he had JUST moved into an apartment of his own (literally a week before i offered him the empty room in mine). On the suggestion of my realtor, he lied and broke his lease, but he did this before his credit check and application to the house i’m to be renting went through. When the application went through, it was denied because of his poor credit history (he had some debts when he lived in California, he now lives in New York, as do i). However, he has a steady job and a good paycheck, so getting the rent paid on time would not be a problem whatsoever, despite what his credit history might say. My realtor suggested that I place an ad on the Internet to find a room-mate, which i am really, really not comfortable doing. The thought of choosing a stranger that i don’t know anything about to live with me, rather than someone i know is trustworthy and reliable doesn’t sit well with me. However, the only way he would be able to become my housemate, the realtor says, is if three to four months’ rent is paid in advance, in case “anything goes awry.” The landowner is the father-in-law of the realtor (i don’t know if that has any bearing, just thought it should be pointed out).  I guess what I would like to know is, am I being scammed? Financially speaking, this person with poor credit history and a great job is the best possible choice for me, room-mate wise. Are the landowner and realtor allowed to do what they say would be the only solution for him to live with me? If we say no to their ‘solution’, my friend is homeless and i still need a room-mate. if he came and lived with me without getting approved, technically it would be trespassing. Any advice or input would be greatly appriciated.Thank you :)

Edited on: Saturday, January 21st, 2012 4:19 pm

5 Responses to “Roommate with bad credit”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


November 15th, 2008 4:25 pm

I’ve read through your renter blog posting about the roommate with bad credit. This is a tough one. Let my give you advice like I would to my own daughter.
I once heard a story about a rattle snake that asked an Indian to carry it down the mountain. The Indian at first said no way, you’re a rattle snake! The snake then calmed down the Indian by promissing that he wouldn’t bite him, so the Indian agreed and carried the snake down the mountain. When the snake got to the bottom of the hill he turned and bit the Indian. Ouch! Screeched the Indian in shock– you promissed me you wouldn’t bite me. The snake replied– “You knew what I was before you picked me up.”
So what does that have to do with renting? A lot actually. Just as history has proved that the Rattle Snake is a deadly poisenous snake– the credit report pulled on your friend has shown that he too can not be trusted when it comes to financial matters. No matter how much you like this guy– I would stay far away from him. He may be working now, but if he happens to lose his job do you think he will do whatever it takes to make sure his protion is paid? …or would it just be easier for him to walk away and move on?
Credit reports are around to help eliminate risk. And yes, I too have been forgiving to renters that have had questionable credit– but many times I had wished I hadn’t. I have learned over the years that a credit report is a fair reflection on the persons future habits.
After all of that, this is my advice:
1) Put an ad online
2) Interview people as possible roommates
3) Print the Rental Application (free)
4) Pull a background check on the roommate you like the best. (RPA provides this service)
5) Rent to a good quality roommate. (Most of the time it is better to not rent with friends.)
I hope that helps. Stay away from your friend with bad credit history- trust me on that!


November 16th, 2008 7:33 pm

No you’re not being scammed. Your landlord has right to approve people before they move in. I used to rent with room-mates too, but it seemed like they were always problems. The advice above isn’t too bad. I would also recommend renting to only people with good positive credit.
I just looked at the pricing to run a state background report on your room-mate, it is only $7.95.
(money well spent)


July 12th, 2012 2:31 pm

Mmm I don’t know.. I think Scott has a fair perspective, but it is only one perspective. I have bad credit (student loans and some rinky dink stuff).. However what I do have is a solid rental history of paying my rent on time (I was late once in 3 years due to a miscommunication while I was on vacation).. I have never had a rent check bounce.. I have specific reasons why I’m not paying the bills I”m not paying and they have zero to do with “I don’t know how to manage my money”.. it has more to do with I just do lay down and roll over just because someone who got a business tax ID says I owe them money.. ( I have a doctor who is trying to give me the bill for a minor surgery, because *his* staff keeps screwing up the insurance paperwork and I have proof of everything I just said about it)..

I have an attorney and am completely aggressive now about vendors who don’t fulfill on their services and send you a bill.. just like most property owners.

My credit is getting better and throughout all of it I have been a fantastic and reliable roommate /tenant.

all of that having been said, if you don’t want to get into the particulars of someone else’s credit report, then you should only go after roommates who have great credit. And, I know wealthy people who don’t pay their bills but have great credit because they bully people (or have their own or their parents’ lawyer bully people)..

At some point you have to trust your own judgement about those things and you will like make a mistake or two. And you will learn what you learn. What I learned was, have a written agreement. Spell things out as fully and completely as possible. People that are easy to resolve disagreements with are probably a much better barometer of who will be a good roommate in my opinion. People that know how to resolve things in communication generally don’t have an issue keeping a job.

Allie Lenard

May 6th, 2013 6:54 am

I understand that you don’t want to choose a stranger, and trust me, that is completely understandable. What I suggest that you ask him to ask the help of a company, EZ Lease Rentals that will sign the lease for him. They are a great company, they help people rent even with bad credit so I suggest you check them out.

Kate D.

June 12th, 2013 8:27 pm

Scott has a clear perspective but that is not always the case. What if the friend of yours with a bad credit history turns out to be a good tenant? I would suggest to your friend that he can apply at EZ Lease Rentals. The company specializes in issues like bad credit history, divorce, foreclosures, bankruptcy and more.


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