10 Tips for Renting an Apartment After Bankruptcy
Finding an apartment to rent after going through a bankruptcy can be a challenge, but it’s definitely possible. In many cities, landlords can’t afford to be quite as selective as they were in the past regarding potential tenants’ credit.
If you’re in the situation of needing to find a place to live and are worried about how your bankruptcy will impact your apartment search, here are ten tips that I hope will make your search easier.
1) Be up-front about your financial situation with your potential landlord
Unless it’s a property that doesn’t run credit checks (which is rare), chances are they will find out you filed for bankruptcy. If you explain that you had financial difficulties in the past, but took steps to resolve the situation, have a job (or proof of steady income) and are able to show you’ve been responsible with your financial obligations since your bankruptcy, it might be enough to convince them to give you a chance.
The longer it has been since your bankruptcy, the better your odds, assuming your finances have improved and you’re not falling behind on any bills again.
2) Rent from a private property owner
It may be easier to rent an apartment from a private owner instead of a complex run by a management company that often have stricter rules regarding credit and income.
You can find private listings on many sites such as Craigslist, Zillow, Rent.com or PadMapper. You can also search for rentals by owner in local newspapers or by looking for "For Rent" signs in the neighborhoods you’re considering.
3) Use your past rental history
If you’ve rented in the past and are able to show you were a good tenant and paid your rent on time, make sure to point this out in your application or interview with a potential landlord. This might help convince them to give you a chance, even with a bankruptcy and less than ideal credit score.
4) Offer a larger security deposit on an apartment
For someone just coming out of a bankruptcy, this one won’t always be possible, but if you are able to put together enough money for a larger security deposit, this can sometimes increase your chances of getting approved. If the apartment requests one month’s security deposit, offer two months or more.
5) Have a job or proof of income
Be sure to bring your current pay stubs or some type of proof of your monthly income when you apply to rent. If you have the type of job where you income varies month-to-month, it’s best to have something in writing from your employer or HR department to give the landlord. If you are self-employed, bring current bank statements to prove your income.
Have you been turned down for an apartment after bankruptcy?
6) Gather a list of references
Put together a list of people you know well and are willing to provide a reference for you. They can be past landlords, current or past employers, business associates, or even personal references. The more people who are willing to vouch for you, the better.
7) Look for 'No Credit Check' Apartments
Search online for "no credit check apartments” in your area. They do exist, although they may or may not be the kind of apartment you want to live in. Be sure to check out these places out in person as well as online before you consider applying to rent one.
8) Look for rentals near a college or university
Landlords in these areas rent to students with little or no credit history on a regular basis and they just might be more lenient about your credit. Although these locations may not appeal to you if you’re not a college-aged person, consider it a temporary situation. Once your finances and credit improves, you’ll be in a better position to move elsewhere.
9) Have a co-signer for your lease
If all else fails, see if you can find someone with good credit to co-sign your lease. Unless you are very certain you will be able to make your rent for the length of the lease, it is better not to go this route and risk losing a relationship with your co-signer if you can’t keep up with your payments.
10) Be proactive about improving your credit right now
Just because you had to declare bankruptcy doesn’t mean your credit is ruined forever. If you begin taking steps to improve your credit immediately after bankruptcy, your credit score will start to reflect the positive results. The sooner you raise your credit score, the easier it will be to get into the apartment you want.
In my article 'How to Get a Good FICO Score After Bankruptcy', I offer tips for how to get started on improving your credit score right away.
- Check each of your credit reports for inaccurate information before you start looking for apartments. This is especially important for people who have gone through a bankruptcy and have had various delinquent accounts listed on their credit report. Be sure every item is reported correctly. If not, contact the credit bureaus about how to correct it.
- Consider a shorter term lease on an apartment, such as three or six months. The landlord may be more open to this option and it will give you the opportunity to prove yourself. If all goes well, in a few months you might be able to get a longer lease.
If you've been approved for a rental soon after bankruptcy, what do think was the biggest factor?
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© 2012 carolynkaye