One of the major concerns of landlords is consistently placing reliable tenants in their properties. For renters, however, life is not always quite so stable. Some potential tenants left behind a broken lease, unpaid rent, and a stack of bills. This combination leaves them with a bad credit rating and a lot of closed doors when searching for a place to live.
For many, this can be devastating. Divorce, separation, escaping abusive relationships, medical emergencies, sudden unemployment, and other hardships can cause otherwise trustworthy potential renters to find themselves shut out of being considered for a place to call home.
Second chance apartments are the housing industry’s attempt to bridge the gap between landlords and potential renters with bad credit history. In these cases, landlords are looking for alternative sources of protection and security in their choice of renter. By getting a clearer picture of the potential renter, they hope to offset the risk represented by a low credit score and a rental history with a broken lease or short payment.
If you’re in the position of shopping second chance apartments, be honest about your situation. Most landlords of second chance apartments will run background checks, so explain your bad credit, talk about your broken lease, and understand that you’re asking someone to open themselves up to a “fool me twice” scenario.
Be prepared to pay a little more security deposit (not to exceed state limits), a little higher rent, or to show that you’re paying down your debts. While you don’t want to take a bad deal, it’s important to understand the apartment owner’s position. Simply explaining that you understand you’re a risk on paper and that you appreciate that they’re taking a chance on you can help a lot.
Other ways to boost your chances are to show your best face. If your resume shows steady work, include it. Write a cover letter stating why you’re excited to live in the particular property. Provide a list of references who will speak highly of you (ask their permission to be on your list and ask them to paint you as reliable and trustworthy).
It’s not impossible to get a home if you’ve damaged your reputation as a renter, but it will take extra leg work and a lot of honesty and humility to earn the trust of someone who can decide whether you can call their place home.