When it comes to renting a home or an apartment those that have bad rental histories are at a severe disadvantage. Whether it be late rent, eviction, property destruction, etc. it is something that can follow you from home to home. Luckily, you can minimize the difficulty of a bad rental history by making allowances for your mistakes and being open to your prospective landlord.
Renting with a Bad Rental History
Talk to your previous landlord. Most landlords will want to know you who your last landlord was and most likely will contact him to discuss your history as a tenant. If you are on good terms with your ex-landlord ask him be truthful, but to also talk about your good tenant qualities such as cleanliness, easily contactable, etc.
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Tell the truth upfront. The one thing you don't want to do is to be caught in a lit. They will never rent to you if they don't think they can trust you. Tell them the truth about your history and then explain why and how now will be different. If they know you were unemployed, had family issues or other reasons for the money not being there, they will likely be more willing to rent to you especially if you can convince them it won't happen again.
Load up with references. If your rental history is your only issue, then load up with good character references to show that you are a good and responsible person that just had a few issues at the last rental unit. If you have four or five really good references from the community, then they may feel like they can trust you with a rental contract.
Throw money at it. If your bad rental history will be a factor in renting a apartment or home, then offer to pay an additional security deposit or to pay a few months rent in advance in case you get behind then you have a few months in reserve to fall back on. This shows you are serious about putting your past behind you and focusing on making a good future.
Offer to have rent directly deposited into an account. If you have trouble paying rent on time, see if your work will allow you to deposit your rent amount directly into you landlord's bank account. You can also see if you bank has automatic bill pay so that as soon as the money is deposited in your account it will be sent to your landlord.