How Easy Is It To Lease a Rental Property in the US?

One of the things that I love about the US, compared with the UK, is that renting in the US is much more the norm for most people, and the rental application process is much more straightforward. That’s not to say that I haven’t struggled with the trials of getting approved for apartment rental leases in the US in the past! And I often hear from family and friends who have difficulties getting approved for leases, mainly because of their credit score. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover the most recent study undertaken by RentCAFE, which reveals that in the last 3 years there has actually been an increase in the average credit score of rental applicants approved for a lease. While in 2014 the US nationwide average was 638, it has now risen to 650.

Why do I think is this significant? Well, again, from personal experience I can tell you that it can be pretty frustrating to find a home you really want to lease, only to be let down by your credit score, especially when you think you can afford the rent! But credit scoring is obviously an important part of the leading process because leasers depend on it to make decisions about affordability and risk. Even though a rental applicant’s credit score is just one piece in the big puzzle of the rental application process, there is a strong correlation between credit scores and the likelihood of being approved for a rental.

We see so much in the media about how to improve your credit score, and it is something we all aspire to! If average credit scores of lease-approved rental applicants are going up, I think that can only be good news for people looking to rent a new home.

This was not the only interesting thing I learned from the study. When it comes to the rental market, there are real differences, from place to place, in the average credit score of applicants approved for a lease. For example, in Boston, it is no less than 737, while in Las Vegas it is as low as 590. I guess location really does speak loudly!

I have often wondered whether when it comes to lease approval, age really is a factor. Well, the study also reveals some interesting generational findings. Baby Boomers boast the highest average scores ­­among accepted applicants – 683, while Millennials and Generation X have a lower accepted average score – 650 and 649, respectively.

Not only does the study provide easy to read charts examining key data on renters’ credit scores by generation and approved applicants’ average credit scores by city, it even includes the average credit score of applicants by building type.

Finding and applying for a rental can be pretty stressful, and having moved from one city to another (and back!) more than once, I can attest to that, but there’s no doubt that a little research before you start the ball rolling can help. Take it from someone who suffers from itchy feet!

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