A shaky rental history doesn't mean you have to get off to a rocky start with prospective landlords. Depending on tenant screening practices in your area and the individual landlord, you may be able to forgo the usual background and credit checks that reveal an eviction from your past. However, if a landlord plans to conduct a thorough screening, prepare to provide an upfront explanation and make concessions to land an apartment after an eviction.
Credit Reports And Tenant Screening
A credit report doesn't necessarily reveal a past eviction, according to credit-reporting bureau Experian. However, it does list court judgments and collection accounts. If the landlord who evicted you took you to court and won or sent you to collections for property damage or unpaid rent, this likely appears on your credit report. Because credit reports don't always tell the full story about a tenant, landlords also perform a tenant screening, usually through a third-party service. A screening report does reveal past evictions, as do a landlord's reference checks with previous landlords.
Write A Letter of Explanation and Document Circumstances
Be honest and straightforward about a prior eviction when asked about it. Explain any extenuating circumstances that led to the eviction and include documentation as proof. Reasonable explanations for an eviction may include:
- Divorce or legal separation
- Medical emergency or serious illness
- Health and safety concerns
A landlord may be willing to rent an apartment to you if you can show that the circumstance was a one-time incident beyond your control. Also explain that the situation has since been resolved and that it's not going to happen again during your next tenancy.
Increase the Security Deposit
An eviction that involved excessive damage to a rental may be a more difficult hurdle to clear. In an effort to reassure a prospective landlord that you will take better care of your next apartment, agree on a higher security deposit. State law limits the amount a landlord can charge as security -- usually one to two months of rent. A larger deposit acts as incentive for you to keep the place intact, so you can receive a full refund at the end of your tenancy. It also provides the landlord with a means of financial recourse if you don't. A security deposit can also be used to cover unpaid rent or utilities after you move out.
Seek Out Less Stringent Landlords
Some landlords are more amiable than others when it comes to accepting previous evictions. However, accepting and overlooking a bad rental history are two different matters. A landlord who is willing to rent to you may need to mitigate the risk with a higher monthly rent. According to Realtor.com, an individual, private apartment owner may be more accepting than a property management company that must adhere to specific rental criteria.
Rely On Positive References
Provide the strongest references possible. Contact information or letters of recommendation from landlords, before or after the eviction, with whom you had a positive tenancy experience can help reinforce that your eviction was an isolated incident. Past or current employers that can vouch for your responsibility may also help your cause.
Get a cosigner, or guarantor, to help you secure a new apartment rental. The landlord may require a guarantor as a condition of renting to you or you may offer to get someone to cosign as an additional measure of good faith. A guarantor acts as a type of insurance policy for the landlord. If you fail to pay rent, the cosigner agrees to make up the shortfall, putting his money and good credit on the line for you.