You Won’t Find an Apartment in These Cities Unless Your Credit Is Near Perfect

apartment buildings

Your credit score is a major factor in whether you get that apartment. | Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Have you ever lost out on an apartment or house because of your credit score? It can be maddening — especially if your credit is generally good. But even “good” may not be good enough for certain landlords or realty companies. They want “great” applicants. People with credit scores that are vastly superior to the rest of the average renter or house hunter out there. They want people who have credit scores that are near perfect.

And in some cities, a bad or otherwise low credit score can make it very difficult to find a place to live. As you might suspect, the problem is worse in certain cities. A new report from RENTCafé.com outlines those cities.

Your credit score and the rental market

“Rental applicants approved for an apartment in 2017 had an average credit score of 650, is the conclusion of our most recent study based on tenant screening data from RentGrow. Meanwhile, those that ended up on the rejected list had an average score of 538,” the report said. “Rental applications submitted nationwide show that the average credit scores of those approved for an apartment lease is on the increase, up 12 points from 638 in 2014.”

In short, the rental market is tight and depending on where you live, it’s getting tighter. Your credit score is an important piece of the puzzle, too, and if yours is lacking, it can cost you. Here are the 15 cities in which you’ll need a pretty good credit score to find an apartment.

15. Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina, cityscape

Charlotte landlords don’t want to see mediocre scores. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 534
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 666

We’ll start in Charlotte, where a credit score of 534 will probably get you rejected. Now, that’s a pretty bad credit score, so you shouldn’t be too worried. Scores range from between 300 and 800, and 534 lands more or less in the middle of the spectrum. But landlords don’t want to see scores that low. The national average, in fact, is pushing 700 as of 2017. So, that should be something to keep in mind when your application is up against a slew of others.

Next: A city where rent prices (and credit scores) are a “mile high”

14. Denver, Colorado

aerial shot of Denver

Rent is going up in Denver. | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 534
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 676

Denver’s going through a renaissance period, and a lot of people are moving to Colorado’s capital to take advantage of the outdoors and friendly atmosphere. That means the rental market is flooding, and that rent is going up. It’s competitive, too, allowing landlords to be more selective. As mentioned, your credit score comes into play when things get competitive. If you score is 676 or above, you’re probably in the clear — but below 535? You’re in trouble.

Next: A Southern city with a booming economy

13. Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh skyline in North Carolina

Raleigh’s rental market is booming. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 544
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 676

Our second North Carolina city, renters in Raleigh are in a similar boat as those down the road in Charlotte. It’s a booming area, and as such, the rental market is getting more competitive. That means you’ll need to make sure your application is in tip-top shape, and that your credit score isn’t going to disqualify you right off the bat. In Raleigh, a disqualifying credit score is anything below 545. That’s not to say you won’t find a place with a lower score, but it’ll make it much more difficult.

Next: To this California city, where it’s summer all year round

12. San Diego, California

San Diego skyline

Rent is expensive in San Diego. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 558
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 677

Who wouldn’t want to live in San Diego? It’s summer year-round, you’re near the beach, and there’s access to great Mexican food. It’s an urban paradise. Unfortunately for those of you hoping for affordable or easy-to-find housing, it’s also very competitive. Rent is expensive in San Diego, and if your credit score doesn’t pass the smell test, landlords will move on to the next applicant. A score of 558 or below is typically disqualifying.

Next: The nation’s capital

11. Washington, D.C.

aerial view of Washington, D.C.

It’s hard to find affordable rent in Washington, D.C. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 558
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 679

It isn’t easy to make do in the District of Columbia. Sure, there are affordable parts of the city, but overall, if your credit score is below 558, you’re going to have a very rough time with most landlords. In Washington, rent tends to be high, and that’s because there’s a lot going on, and a lot of people who are working in the city that need a place to live. Again, that’s not to say that it’s impossible to find somewhere affordable, but be prepared for stiff competition.

Next: The country capital of the world

10. Nashville, Tennessee

downtown Nashville, Tennessee

The rental market is competitive in Nashville. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 546
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 686

Country fans might have “friends in low places”, but you definitely don’t want your credit score in a low place if you’re hoping to find an apartment in Nashville. Nashville is one of those cities that’s exploding in popularity — for a variety of reasons — and that many people are trying to call home. But, as you may have guessed, that means it’s a competitive rental market. A credit score lower than 546 might be enough to sink your application.

Next: The Windy City

9. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago cityscape on Chicago River

A credit score of 690 or above will almost surely get you approved. | Ibsky/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 560
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 690

Another big, popular, exciting city. And one that is quite competitive when it comes to the rental market. If you’re hoping to find a great place to live in Chicago, odds are, you’ll be successful. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be hiccups. Especially if your credit score isn’t stellar. In Chicago, you’re almost sure to be approved if you have a score of 690. But if you are languishing at 560 or less? It’ll be a lot tougher to find a place.

Next: A place where the dream of the ’90s is still alive

8. Portland, Oregon

sign for Portland, Oregon

Portland’s culture is attracting people from all across the country. | Png-Studio/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 567
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 690

The Pacific Northwest is another part of the country that’s hopping — literally, if you figure the amount of beer that’s produced in the region. Portland is at the forefront of the hopping, in that sense, as the city’s inherent “weirdness” is attracting people from all over the country. A once sleepy, grungy town is now a destination for people from all walks of life. If your credit score is edging near 700, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a place to live. Below 567, though, and you’re in trouble.

Next: The City of Angels

7. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles skyline

You need a credit score of nearly 700 to snag a rental. | Choness/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 612
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 691

It’s a little more competitive in Los Angeles than in its southern neighbor, San Diego, in terms of the rental market. Your credit score will need to be a little higher to ensure that you can actually get into a building, and that usually means above 612 — per our report, anyway. Out in the suburbs and surrounding areas, you’ll probably have better luck. But in Los Angeles proper and some of the wealthier suburbs, you’re going to need a robust score.

Next: “Can I offer you a nice egg in this trying time?”

6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

visitors view the Liberty Bell

You’ll need a score of over 700 in Philadelphia. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 557
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 702

The egg reference is from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, for the uninitiated. And as you know, Always Sunny takes place in and around Philadelphia, the city that lands at sixth place on our list. In Philly, the average score that “guarantees” you an approval is above 700 — 702, to be exact. A score below 557 will get you into trouble, though. There are generally more affordable places in Philly than, say, San Diego or Los Angeles, so renters have that on their side.

Next: A city by the Bay

5. Oakland, California

aerial view of Oakland, California

Oakland is getting more expensive. | trekandshoot/iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 571
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 707

You knew we’d dip into the Bay Area at some point, and our toes have officially hit the water. Oakland lands at the fifth spot on the list, and is another city that has affordable areas but is gentrifying and getting more expensive. In Oakland, a credit score topping 707 is the average to fast-track your approval. On the other end of the spectrum, a score of around 570 is going to be considered too low for most landlords.

Next: The hometown of Target and Al Franken

4. Minneapolis, Minnesota

skyline in Minneapolis

The rental market is competitive in Minneapolis. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 593
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 711

One of the few cities in the Midwest on our list, Minneapolis is yet another city in which the rental market is becoming increasingly competitive. It’s a nice town, and there are plenty of opportunities to be had. For that reason, people are flooding in. If your credit score is good, around 711, you shouldn’t have trouble beating out other renters. The damning score, though, is 593. That’ll make it tough.

Next: Viva Cascadia!

3. Seattle, Washington

Seattle cityscape

The Seattle rental market is blowing up. | welcomia/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 577
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 711

We touched on the Pacific Northwest, and here’s the other city that’s being swamped by renters — Seattle. Seattle’s blowing up, and the rental market is as competitive as any in the country. In terms of the actual scores that are highlighted by our report, Seattle is actually tied with Minneapolis. If your score is 711 or above, you should be fine. If it’s below 577, though, finding a place to live will be more difficult.

Next: Another, more expensive city by the Bay

2. San Francisco, California

San Francisco skyline

Renting in San Francisco doesn’t come cheap. | kropic/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 611
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 724

From the report: “The average credit score of those approved for an apartment in the city by the bay in 2017 is 724, second highest in the country. San Francisco is the second most expensive rental market in the country, with the average rent rate above $3,400, up 38% from 5 years prior.” This shouldn’t be much of a surprise to most of you, but seeing that you can be rejected from an apartment for having a credit score of 610 should be disconcerting for Bay Area renters.

Next: The home of the Revolution

1. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston in the fall

You will need excellent credit to rent in Boston. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Average score that will get you rejected: 667
  • Average score that will get you in the building: 737

Your credit score will carry the most weight in Boston. Here’s what RENTCafé.com had to say: “Applying for rent in Boston? You will need stellar credit. The average credit score of applicants who are approved for rent in Boston is 737, the highest score in the 50 largest U.S. cities. Boston is the third most expensive city for renters in the country, with an average monthly rent of around $3,200, according to Yardi Matrix.”

See the complete report from RENTCafé.com.

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