You started off as a great tenant. You respectfully followed all the rules about noise and guests. You parked in your assigned parking spot. You paid your rent on time each month.
Then things fell apart. Maybe you got fired. Maybe your ex skipped town and left you with a pile of debt. Maybe an injury or illness caused the medical bills to rack up, leaving you with very little extra cash for things like rent and utilities. Somehow, things didn’t go as well as they should have, and you ended up getting evicted.
If you’re searching for a new rental home, don’t let a potential landlord find out about an eviction during a credit check. Be honest about your situation when you apply to show you are a trustworthy person who has learned from the past. Explain why you were evicted, and talk about the steps you’ve taken to ensure you never face another eviction.
Pay Your Former Landlord
Once a new landlord knows about your eviction, she might be hesitant to rent a home to you without proof that you’ve attempted to rectify your damaged rental history.
If you owe money for your eviction and can’t afford the entire balance due, ask your previous landlord if you can set up a payment plan. Meet with a real estate attorney, if you can afford to do so, as this may give you a better shot of establishing a payment plan. Some evictions cost more than $10,000, especially if you are charged for storage and the entire duration of your broken lease, so keep that in mind as you decide whether to hire a lawyer.
Bring Plenty of Cash
When you go to look at new homes, bring a wad of cash with you. We’re not talking about hundreds of dollars…we’re talking about thousands. You’re going to need it when you finally find a landlord who works with evicted tenants.
Offer to pay a month – or six – in advance. Having lots of money is the easiest way to get a new place and prove that you’re stable. If you don’t have much money, figure out a way to get more income rolling in ASAP. Pawn some electronics, file for child support, or sell your old stuff on eBay.
Skip the Complexes
Apartment complexes owned by large rental companies are probably not going to accept you now – or any time during the next few years. Don’t waste your time or money applying.
Look for small apartment communities or private rentals. Try to find somebody who doesn’t check credit. Many landlords on Craigslist could care less about your credit or rental history.
Bring a bunch of letters from friends, family members, and coworkers gushing about how awesome and responsible that you are. This shows potential landlords you’re a decent person.
Mind Your Manners
Having an eviction on your credit report is like having a giant “E” stamped across your forehead, so you have to go out of your way to be polite. Shake the landlord’s hand, bake her cookies, and thank her for showing you the property. Send her a thank-you card or email.
Offer Your Services
Are you a handyman (or woman) who rocks at repairing stuff? Offer to renovate the rental home in exchange for free or discounted rent.
Do you enjoy taking care of others? Consider moving in with a family who needs a full-time nanny or an elderly couple who could use some help with daily tasks.
Find a Cosigner
Look, we get it. If you had a cosigner for your rental home, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article right now. We still figured it was worth a mention.
Buy a Home
An eviction doesn’t automatically disqualify you from buying a home. Some loan programs, such as the USDA rural loan program, have lenient requirements when it comes to credit score and income. You may also be eligible for a rent-to-own program where you rent a house for a year or two until your credit is good enough to buy it.
If you move in with family or rent a room at an extended-stay motel after your eviction, find a way to establish yourself as a tenant. Keep copies of receipts for room payments or utility bills, and have mail sent to the home or business in your name. Use this information to show potential landlords that you’ve successfully paid bills and secured a stable living situation after the eviction.