Renting an apartment typically requires proof of income, good credit and a steady job to ensure you can continue paying into the future. If you have a nontraditional source of income or are unemployed and seeking a rental, finding an owner who will accept your application can be challenging.
If you don't have a traditional income to provide to your potential landlord but you have the cash to pay the rent, you might be able to work something out. Landlords want to rent to people who will pay -- and pay on time. If you are unable to meet the income requirements for a given property, offer to pay a large chunk of the rent up front. Handing over six months rent before the lease has started might be enough to persuade the landlord you are good for the money. In extreme cases, you can offer to pay the entire lease up front or to provide a larger-than-normal security deposit to ensure the rent will be paid and the landlord will get the money owed no matter what.
In some situations, good credit is weighed more heavily than the presence or lack of an income. If you are a recent graduate who has not yet found work but who has the financial wherewithal to cover the first few months of rent, some landlords will refer to your credit history to see if you are responsible with your bills and if they can count on you as a tenant. If your credit history is good and you are up front about your situation, a landlord might be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Tell the landlord that if you do not find a new job in the first month or two, you will return to your old position to ensure there is enough money coming in to cover the rent. Get a letter from your old employer stating this as proof.
Use your relationships with former employers and landlords to demonstrate your responsibility and good standing as a tenant. If your employers and landlords are willing to vouch for your good character based on years of experience, your landlord might be more open to you as a tenant. Present your letters and reference contact information to the landlord at the time of your application submission.
Ask a relative or close friend to sign the lease with you as a guarantor. If your co-signer has good credit and sufficient income, the landlord should have no problem giving you the lease. Inform your co-signer that they will be responsible for the rent if you fail to pay so there are no surprises down the road. While this is not the ideal situation and many people are not thrilled to take on such a burden, if you have no income and bad credit, it can be the only option.
Take out a policy that protects the landlord from lack of payment should you not be able to raise the money. The premiums for rental insurance can be high, but the protection it offers your landlord can be the determining factor between getting the lease and moving back home. If you should fall short one month, the policy will kick in and cover the charges, so everyone is happy.
One of the most important factors in a landlord's decision to consider you as a tenant is the state of the market in the area you are looking. If the apartment is in high demand and there is a line of qualified applicants waiting for a chance at it, you will not likely be at the top of the list. On the other hand, if the landlord owns only a few units and the demand is not high, she will typically be more open to nontraditional applications.
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