Being evicted from an apartment can be scary and emotional for many people, as it is common to feel uncertain about where you will go next, or as though you will never be able to rent a home or apartment again. While an eviction can feel like the end of the world since it can sully your rental history and credit rating for a few years, the fact is that you may be able to take steps to get the eviction removed from your record, and even if you can't, you may be able to rent again sooner than you'd think. To help you get back on your feet, here are a few steps that you can take to find a new place to rent following your recent eviction.
Try to Clear Your Record
The first thing that you should do when looking for a new rental after an eviction is to try to talk to your former landlord to make things right and to see if they would be willing to help you clear your record. While you should be prepared for the fact that your landlord may not be willing to help you, you may be able to get them to agree to remove the eviction from your credit history if you pay them any back rent or damages that you owe. If they agree to these terms, make sure that you get a signed document showing that you have rectified your debt and that your landlord intends to expunge the eviction from your record. Having this document can be helpful when meeting with new landlords until the eviction is removed from your record.
Of course, you may find that there is nothing that you can do to make things right with your former landlord. If this is the case, do not worry. You will still be able to find a new place to live, it just might take a little extra effort with an eviction on your record.
Start Rebuilding Your Credit
Should your former landlord be unwilling to help you remove the eviction from your record, you will need to start working on rebuilding your credit as soon as possible in order to make finding a place to rent easier. You will first want to obtain a copy of your credit report to see how much the eviction has affected your credit score. Next, you will want to work on paying down any outstanding debts that you owe, as this can go a long way in improving your credit score. Moving forward, make sure to pay all of your credit cards and bills on time, as even one missed payment can hurt your credit score.
As you begin to research and apply to new apartments and rental homes, you need to be prepared for the fact that you may have a few of your rental applications rejected. However, it is important that you do not take these rejections personally. The fact is that many landlords and property managers perform background and credit checks on potential renters, and many have strict policies of automatically rejecting anyone with a past eviction as a way to weed out potentially risky tenants. The rejection is not meant to be personal, so do your best to move on quickly and apply to a more hospitable landlord.
Look for Private Owners
One of the best ways to improve your chances of having your rental application accepted is to confine your search to independently owned houses and condos. The fact is that multi-family property managers have set guidelines they have to follow, and they are likely to immediately deny a rental application that shows an eviction. However, homeowners are more likely to overlook credit history when choosing tenants, and many homeowners do not even bother to do a background or credit check when processing applications.
Another benefit of focusing your search on privately owned properties is that you often deal directly with the homeowner. This can give you the opportunity to make a personal appeal to them about your situation and why they should rent to you. Homeowners are more likely to be compassionate, and they may choose to give you a chance upon hearing your story.
References Are Key
With an eviction on your credit history, compiling a list of good references can be instrumental in helping you to find a new rental. A good place to start would be with past landlords from before your eviction who can attest to the fact that you are a good tenant and that the eviction was an anomaly. Another great reference to have during your apartment search would be either your employer or business partner. Not only can a professional reference speak to your character, but having an employer on your reference list can also demonstrate to a landlord or property manager that you have a safe and steady income. As with job applications, it is important that you ask references for permission before putting them on a housing application, as this will help to ensure that they are willing, and prepared, to give you a good review when they are called.
During your apartment search, it is critical that you are always open and honest about your eviction when asked. It is better to be upfront about an eviction, and what happened, when asked than to be caught in a lie. In fact, many landlords will appreciate your honesty, and they will be more open to hearing your side of the story because you were upfront about your eviction.
As you begin to submit rental applications, make sure that you are prepared to be asked questions about your eviction. Make sure that you have answers ready to give landlords and property managers including a brief overview of what happened and what you think you learned from the eviction. You may be surprised by how many property owners there are that will be willing to work with you because you were open and honest about your past.
Make a Good First Impression
Whenever you meet with a potential landlord, it is critical that you take steps to make a good first impression; however, this is of particular importance if you have an eviction on your record. Making a good first impression with a landlord can go a long way, so prepare for the meeting as if it were a job interview. Make sure that you dress professionally, show up and time, and bring all of your financial documents with you organized neatly in a folder. This will show that you are professional and organized, which can help demonstrate that your past rental issues are not going to be repeated.
When meeting with private property owners, remember that cash talks and that you may be able to get them to give you a chance by offering them additional money. For instance, offering to pay a larger deposit as well as your first and last months rent up front (if that is not already common in your area) can soothe a landlord's nerves by giving them something to fall back on were you to default. Similarly, you may be able to convince an uncertain landlord to let you rent their home/condo if you offer to pay a rental rate slightly higher than what they advertised. However, make sure that you replenish any savings that you have to dip into for your deposit so that you do not find yourself in trouble again should something happen in your personal life.
Consider a Cosigner
Unfortunately, you may find that even after all of your hard work, you may still have a hard time finding a place to rent with an eviction on your record. If this is the case and you are running out of time to find a new place to live, then you may want to consider finding a cosigner for your lease. If a friend or a family member has good credit and a solid rental history, a property owner or manager may be more likely to rent to you if you can get them to cosign your lease. Of course, cosigning is a major responsibility for both parties, so it is important that you only approach people to cosign with you who trust you and who you know you can trust.
Use an Apartment Locator or Rental Broker
Of course, if you are having difficulty finding a place to live because of a past eviction, you may have more luck if you work with an apartment locator or rental brokerage service. An apartment locator service will be familiar with many of the landlords in your area, and they will know which ones are more likely to accept a tenant with a prior eviction. This knowledge can greatly improve your chances of finding a new place to live quickly and easily.
After being evicted, it is important to not let yourself feel hopeless or defeated; it is likely that you will be able to find another place to rent in the near future, you just may have limited options while you work on rebuilding your credit. Contact us to learn more about how you can move on and get back on your feet after an eviction.