Nobody is perfect. Life happens and circumstances change. Jobs are won and lost. Injuries and illness affect our ability to earn income. Decisions made may not always be right or best.
People experience ups and downs, and still need a place to live. Here are tips for finding a landlord who will work with 2nd chance applicants.
1. Use a Buyer's Agent or Apartment Locator - Professionals have access to systems and information that will help identify landlords with more lenient tenant screening criteria. Excellent buyer's agents pre-screen landlords for their screening criteria, policies, and exception requirements for willingness to work with a prospective file BEFORE showing or suggesting the property to his/her client. Plus, the best part is, Buyer's Agent services are generally free to the customer!
2. Disclose, disclose, disclose! Fill out a rental application for your agent, and include EVERYTHING. Include the information the form asks for, as well as anything that might pop up on a rental screen. Rental, criminal, and credit history are fair game. Mention any prior broken leases, evictions, short sales, foreclosures, repos, convictions, etc… If there are gaps in job history, explain them. If your name has changed, explain your aliases. Too often, applicants make the mistake of trying to hide negative information, thinking a landlord might miss it. This almost always results in disappointment.
3. Provide all of the necessary support documents... Neatness counts! If something isn't crystal clear and legible, it will cast a shadow on your application.
- An application for each individual 18+ years old who will be living in the home
- A photo ID
- Proof of Income / Savings
- At least 2 month's worth of paycheck stubs
- Letters of Explanation for anything derogatory
- Letters of reference (if possible)
- Letters of employment / salary verification
- Pictures of proposed pets
4. Shop for properties where you will meet 3x the income to rent ratio. Landlords prefer lower risk when it comes to getting the rent check.
5. Prepare to double or triple the rent deposit to get accepted. You will need to show proof that you have enough funds for the deposit amounts (rental deposit, pet deposit, 1st month's full rent.) If you are not prepared for this financially, postpone your search until you are ready.
6. Consider a co-signer / lease guarantor. If a friend or relative is willing to do this for you, work ahead to get all of the same info from #2 and #3 for your co-signer. The landlord will require it.
7. If finding a house is proving to be too difficult, re-consider apartment living. Rental communities often have lower deposit amounts and softer screening criteria than do individual landlords.
8. Be wary of internet ads advertising lease properties that are not represented through a Broker. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Read "The Ugly Face of Rental Scams" for red flags and common traps set by predators who are just hoping for a desperate 2nd chance applicant who will eagerly ignore all of the warning signs!