how to rent your first apartment with no credit history

Renting your first apartment in Canada without a credit history or stable employment can seem daunting, but it’s far from impossible. As a newcomer to the country, there are several strategies you can employ to secure housing. Understanding the rental market, leveraging alternative methods of financial assurance, and being flexible and proactive in your approach can significantly enhance your chances. This guide outlines practical steps and tips on how to rent your first apartment with no credit history, ensuring you find a suitable apartment despite these common challenges.

What Is a Credit History?

A credit history in Canada refers to a record of an individual’s borrowing and repayment activities. It includes information on how well someone has managed credit in the past, such as credit card usage, loan repayments, and bill payments. This history is crucial as it influences financial decisions, employment opportunities, and housing options in Canada. Building a strong credit history involves factors like obtaining a social insurance number (SIN), using a Canadian credit card responsibly, and making timely payments to establish a positive credit score. In Canada, credit scores range from 300 to 900, with higher scores indicating better creditworthiness.

Why You Typically Need a Job or Credit History to Rent an Apartment

  • Proof of Income and Financial Stability: A steady employment record indicates that you have a stable income. This reassures landlords that you can afford to pay rent consistently. It demonstrates financial stability and reliability. Also, a good credit history shows that you have a track record of managing your finances responsibly, paying bills on time, and handling credit obligations properly.
  • Risk Assessment: By evaluating a tenant’s job and credit history, landlords can gauge the risk of potential financial issues. Tenants with a stable job and good credit history are less likely to default on rent payments, reducing the financial risk for landlords. Moreover, if a tenant fails to pay rent or has to be evicted, the landlord faces vacancy costs, legal fees, and the hassle of finding a new tenant. Verifying job and credit history helps minimise these risks.
  • Indicators of Responsible Behavior: A good credit history indicates that you have a history of meeting financial obligations, which often translates to being a responsible and reliable tenant. Also, a steady job history suggests that the tenant is likely to remain employed and financially capable of meeting rent payments.

9 Tips on How to Rent Your First Apartment with No Credit History or Employment

1. Provide a Co-signer or Guarantor

Ask a family member or friend with good credit and a stable income to co-sign the lease or be your guarantor for apartment rental Canada. This provides the landlord with added security, as the co-signer is responsible for the rent if you cannot pay. The co-signer or guarantor will sign the lease agreement along with you, taking on the legal responsibility for the lease. This means they are equally responsible for the rent and any damages to the property.

Hence, the landlord will typically perform a credit and background check on the co-signer or guarantor to ensure they are financially stable and trustworthy. This involves checking their credit score, income, employment history, and sometimes rental history. Additionally, the co-signer or guarantor’s commitment usually lasts for the duration of the lease. However, some landlords might agree to release the co-signer or guarantor from their obligations if you can prove financial stability later on.

2. Offer a Larger Security Deposit

A security deposit is a sum of money that a tenant provides to a landlord at the beginning of a rental agreement. This deposit serves as financial protection for the landlord against potential losses or damages that might occur during the tenancy. It can be used to cover the repair of damages on the property, unpaid rent, and cleaning and restoration when necessary. As such, a larger security deposit provides a financial cushion for the landlord in case you fail to pay rent or cause damage to the property. This reduces the perceived risk and is how to rent your first apartment with no credit history.

Keep in mind that local laws and regulations often govern the maximum amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit and how it must be handled. For example, some provinces in Canada limit the deposit to one month’s rent and require it to be held in a separate account. Also, many jurisdictions require landlords to place security deposits in an interest-bearing account. They are to return the deposit, with interest, to the tenant at the end of the tenancy, minus any deductions for damages or unpaid rent. Additionally, the landlord must provide an itemized list of any deductions and return the remaining deposit within a specified time frame after the tenant moves out. Failure to do so can result in legal penalties.

3. Show Proof of Savings

Showing proof of substantial savings reassures landlords that you have the financial means to pay rent consistently, even without a current income or credit history. It shows that you have planned for your expenses and can cover rent for a significant period. Hence, reduce this perceived risk and make the landlord more comfortable with renting to you.

To show proof of your savings, collect your recent bank statements that clearly show your savings balance. Aim to provide statements for the last three to six months to demonstrate consistency. Then, you can write a letter explaining your financial situation and how your savings will ensure you can meet your rental obligations. Be honest and transparent about why you currently lack credit history or employment. If applicable, include information about any other sources of income, such as freelance work, scholarships, or support from family. This can further assure the landlord of your ability to pay rent.

4. Provide References

Another tip on how to rent your first apartment with no credit history is to provide references. References from employers, colleagues, or mentors can vouch for your character, reliability, and responsibility. This is especially important for landlords who cannot assess your financial reliability through traditional means like credit history or employment verification. It can be particularly reassuring if you are between jobs or recently graduated.

Also, if you have rented informally before or on a sublease basis, references from these individuals can assure the landlord that you have been a responsible tenant in the past, maintaining the property well and paying rent on time. Ask your references to emphasize qualities that are important to landlords, such as your responsibility, timeliness with payments, cleanliness, and respect for property.

5. Negotiate Lease Terms

By proposing terms that reduce the landlord’s financial risk, such as a shorter lease duration or a higher security deposit, you can make your application more attractive. Also, flexibility and willingness to negotiate show that you are serious about renting the apartment and are ready to find mutually beneficial solutions.

Strategies for Negotiating Lease Terms

  • Offer a Larger Security Deposit: As mentioned earlier, you can propose a higher security deposit than usual. This provides the landlord with a financial cushion in case of missed rent payments or property damage, reducing their perceived risk.
  • Agree to a Shorter Lease Term: Suggest a shorter lease term (e.g., six months instead of a year). This allows the landlord to reassess your situation after a shorter period, giving them an opportunity to terminate the lease if things aren’t working out.
  • Pay Rent in Advance: Offer to pay several months’ rent upfront. This can be particularly reassuring for landlords, as it ensures they will receive rent payments for a specified period despite your lack of credit history or employment.
  • Provide Additional References: While not directly a lease term, offering multiple strong references can be part of your negotiation strategy, helping to build trust and mitigate the landlord’s concerns.
  • Propose Regular Check-Ins: Suggest regular check-ins or inspections (e.g., quarterly) to reassure the landlord that you are maintaining the property well. This shows that you are confident in your ability to take care of the apartment.

6. Look for Shared Housing or Sublets

In a shared housing arrangement, the financial responsibility is distributed among multiple tenants. This can reduce the perceived risk of renting to someone without a credit history or employment. Besides, shared accommodation Canada often has lower financial requirements compared to renting an entire apartment which is more convenient for a newcomer tenant Canada.

Hence, landlords or primary tenants renting out rooms may be less stringent about credit history or employment status. Also, sublets and shared housing arrangements often offer more flexible lease terms, including short-term leases. This can be ideal if you’re looking for temporary housing while you build your credit or find stable employment. Hence, it is a vital tip on how to rent your first apartment with no credit history.

7. Get a Roommate with a Good Credit Record

The presence of a financially stable roommate can strengthen the overall rental application. The landlord will be more inclined to approve the lease if one tenant demonstrates a good track record of financial responsibility. Also, with two tenants, the financial burden is shared. This means that even if one tenant faces financial difficulties, the other can help cover the rent, providing added security to the landlord.

While sharing the apartment, you can work on building your credit history. Paying your share of the rent and other bills on time, even if they are in your roommate’s name, can help you establish a positive financial record over time. Importantly also, have an open discussion with your roommate about how rent and other expenses will be shared. Clearly outline each person’s financial responsibilities to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that payments are made on time.

8. Explore Non-Elite Neighborhoods

Landlords in less competitive rental markets may be more flexible and willing to consider tenants without a credit history or employment for no credit rental approval Canada. They may prioritise finding a reliable tenant over strictly adhering to standard application requirements. Similarly, there is often less competition for apartments in non-elite neighbourhoods. Hence, giving you a better chance of securing a rental without the pressure of competing against numerous applicants with stronger financial profiles.

Also, landlords in these areas are sometimes more community-oriented and may value personal references, savings, and other non-traditional forms of financial assurance over formal credit checks. So, you can talk to friends, family, or acquaintances who live in or are familiar with these neighbourhoods. They might know of available rentals or can introduce you to local landlords.

9. Find a Temporary Accommodation

If possible, first find temporary accommodation while working towards something more permanent as a first-time renter Canada. Staying with friends or family, or booking long-term stays at an Airbnb, hotel, or hostel can give you time to build your credit history and alleviate the pressure of finding an apartment quickly. While staying in a temporary place, take up survival jobs to build your employment and credit history. Besides, engaging in lower-skilled jobs or volunteering can help you build a network, gain work experience, and demonstrate your responsibility.


Figuring out how to rent your first apartment with no credit history requires creativity, persistence, and strategic planning. By exploring options like finding a co-signer, offering a larger security deposit, seeking temporary accommodation, or considering shared housing, you can overcome the typical barriers to renting. Additionally, focusing on non-elite neighbourhoods, negotiating lease terms, and providing proof of savings and strong references can further strengthen your rental application. While the process may be challenging, these strategies can help you demonstrate reliability and financial responsibility to potential landlords, paving the way to your new home.