So before we were married, my husband moved to NYC 2 weeks before I did, and therefore I am not on our current lease. We have completely out grown our apartment and are looking to move out. I am nervous about submitting myself to a credit check, because I have pretty bad credit, no bankruptcies or anything, just missing lots of payments and wildly overcharging like an idiot in college. Everything is paid off as of three years ago, but I'm sure my credit report is not good. So, 1) How bad can your credit be, if your husband has ok credit, and in-laws who will co-sign and 2) Can we skip this all together and just put my husband's name on the lease? I mean, just because I live there and I'm his wife, do I have to jump through all those hoops?

Thanks, JM

2004_07_askrent.jpgThe good news is that, if you've paid everything off, your credit probably isn't as bad as you think it is. So the first step is to acquire a copy of your credit report. (This is a handy thing to know, anyway, and at least you'd be prepared for whatever the report reveals.) You can get a copy of your credit report from Equifax (or, better yet, a friend of Ask Gothamist recommends getting a free credit report from a place like Consumer Info).

If it turns out that your credit rating is still not so good, you aren't out of options. We'd recommend trying to find an apartment directly from an owner of a small building, as opposed to going through a broker or management company. Small-time owners are more likely to be flexible. Check out the apartments listed by owners on craigslist to start out.

But you probably won't have too many problems. If you're upfront with your future landlord, your husband has decent credit, you have a good history of paying rent on time at your previous apartment, and you've got your in-laws on deck to co-sign if needed, you'll be fine. People with poor credit do get NYC apartments; their landlords just need assurance that rent will be paid on time.

If this proves to be too difficult, it is possible for just your husband's name to be on the lease. As the spouse of the lessee, you would have all the same legal rights as he would. (If you weren't married, though, you would have a much more difficult time; roommates who aren't on the lease have few rights.)

So, really, it's your decision: if it is important for you to be on the lease, we're sure you can still find an apartment even with the bad credit history. If not, you can easily rent an apartment in just your husband's name.

Related: Ask Gothamist on all things apartment-related: getting on the lease if you aren't, dealing with brokers, and not getting swindled.