Once released from prison, several ex-convicts find it hard to fit back into society. This is mostly in matters pertaining to accommodation. If you don’t have a family, after being released from your felons, you should rent an apartment or home. This is because not everyone can afford to have a permanently owned home.
However, it may be difficult to find a home to rent and live in if you have a felony on your record. Landlords who do credit or background checks may refuse to rent to people with such records. This is because they believe it will be a nuisance to the property or neighborhood.
Luckily, by using local resources and government programs, you may find apartments that accept felons for accommodation. In this article, we dive into apartments that accept felons. You will also know some reasons why landlords decline your application as well as learn ways to get yourself a house if you have a felony.
How To Get An Apartment If You Have A Felony
It is never easy to get an apartment if you have a felony. If you find yourself in such a fix, look for apartment complexes that do not do background checks. You may also have to contact a reputable real estate agent who is familiar with renting.
Here are some ways that you can get an apartment if you have a felony.
1. Find a job
Getting a job before trying to get an apartment with a felony is so effective as it shows you are responsible, can pay rent in time, can afford other possible bills and that you are busy with no time to commit other crimes. Therefore, changes of being approved for rental as an employed felon are so high.
2. Be truthful
As the adage goes, honesty is the best policy. Nowadays, it is difficult to lie because of the internet. There is a saying that says, the internet never forgets. Besides doing a background check, a simple Google search may give rich information. Misrepresenting information on your application may result in your instant eviction. It may also lead to rejection as a renter.
So, it is wise if you give out real information about yourself. You may manage to rent without the landlord discovering your criminal record. If they do so during your stay, you risk getting evicted. There is nothing stressful like forced eviction or relocating unexpectedly.
3. Consider private landlords
You can consider privately owned flats or rental buildings managed by property firms. Management firms conduct extensive background and screening checks for renters. The probability of getting a house when dealing with the owner may be greater. This is when compared to management firms.
Your chances of convincing the landlord to rent to you are high. This is only if he or she can show that you are not who your record indicates you are. Speaking with a specific individual may assist you in explaining your position.
This does not mean you withhold your history from a prospective landlord. You are just searching for a better situation that will allow you to talk more freely. This is because the owner has the last say over who should be a new renter.
4. Know your state rules
Different states have different rules. A background check in certain jurisdictions will not show a conviction that is more than 7 years old. If you live in California, you do not need to report your conviction if you are in this position.
It is extremely unjust to refuse someone housing because of a very old conviction. This is because there is no legislation prohibiting it in many states.
5. Avoid what landlords do not want to see
If you have a felony, you may consider the landlord’s perspective. Landlords are mostly looking to rent to a responsible, trustworthy individual. A tenant who will pay rent on time and will not cause problems for the neighbors.
Also, keep your place neat and off damages. This is something to keep in mind while searching for an apartment. Ensure the prospective landlord that you will never:
- Pay rent arrears on time.
- Contravene the lease’s terms.
- Pose a threat to the safety of other tenants or management.
6. Demonstrate your achievements
You can bring appropriate documents displaying your excellent character. You should prepare evidence showing your progress in reclaiming your life. This is just the same as those who had eviction or poor credit in the past.
Bring positive letters or recommendations from friends, relatives, and employers. You may also get them from volunteer organizations. These will reveal that you are a trustworthy individual.
7. Find help
You need to use accessible resources in your neighborhood. Find non-profit organizations in your region that specialize in rehabilitating felons. The Northern California Service League provides post-release help in the San Francisco region. It includes a housing evaluation. Additionally, reentry programs are usually offered in all states. So, you can look for such programs in your state for help.
You can also ask your friends, colleagues, family or bosses to give you a letter of reference, attesting to your good character. You can also ask help from your previous landlord to attest to your reliability and good conduct as his former tenant. This way, you will be easily accepted in the apartment with a felony.
8. Make a lump-sum offer
If you have enough funds, try providing a higher security deposit. You can pay for several months’ rent in advance. Note, this is not a guarantee that the landlord will agree. This may provide the landlord with more peace of mind in the event of property damage. Also, the landlord will have no doubt that you will not pay rent on time.
Where Can I Get An Apartment If I Have A Felony Near Me?
Although it’s hard to find apartments that accept felonies, it’s not impossible. What is the remedy? Conduct a search for rentals that do not need a background check.
There are several locations with apartments that do not conduct background checks. Here are some locations you can try.
1. Less populated areas
It’s very easy to get apartments that accept felons in areas with few residents. In most cases, these places have low costs of living, attract cheaper rents with low demand. As a result, landlords hardly get tenants to rent their apartments. This will make them easily grant you a place to live regardless of your felony. Most of these places are major towns and cities’ outskirts.
2. Conduct a Yelp.com search for second chance rentals
This search engine provides thousands of apartment rentals. You may narrow your search by specifying “apartments without a background check.” Ensure you enter your zip code to get the apartments available in your area.
You will get several apartments without background checks or credit checks. Note, you may get limited felon options.
3. Take a look at Zumper.com
This is a lesser-known housing search engine. It offers a large selection of second-chance apartments in most places in the country. Additionally, they do not need a background or credit check. You will see the phrase “Felony-friendly” in the apartment description while browsing.
4. Conduct a search on Craigslist.com
Craigslist offers the greatest variety of apartments leased by private landlords. This is unlike other apartment search engines that offer a mixture of them. There are no property management or real estate firms’ house ads on Craigslist. You may do a search for “no credit check apartments” in your area. Additionally, you can specify the minimum and maximum costs that you can afford.
5. Zillow’s Community Pillar Program
This is another option for looking for an apartment or a room. It is a prominent search engine compared to other available engines. This is a unique initiative mainly launched to connect struggling tenants with landlords. It is a good option with landlords ready to bend their requirements and criteria. This is for them to offer tenants a second opportunity.
How Do You Apply For An Apartment If You Have A Felony?
As mentioned above, getting an apartment with felony records is not an easy process. Therefore, you should be ready to face a number of challenges during this process. After finding your favorite apartment that accepts felonies near you, you should go ahead and apply. Here is the way out:
Write an application letter
This is where you write a handwritten letter to your landlord, begging them to grant you a chance to live in their apartments. In this letter, you should be as sincere as possible. Also, you should humbly explain your felony story to install empathy in the landlord. You should not leave out the fact that you have changed to a responsible person. This will help your application to pass rejection.
Have a character witness
Some landlords need to prove if you are indeed a changed person. Here, you should have a character witness who will vouch for your good character and convince the landlord to rent you a place.
Make the payment
After approval, you are now required to pay for your apartment. Here, it’s advised to pay more in terms of a security deposit or a few months’ rent upfront. This will convince the landlord how changed and serious you are about renting his apartment.
More ways to convince your landlord to accept your rent application with a felony
- Meet your landlord for an interview dressed in a responsible way. Be clean, neat and organized.
- During your conversation with the landlord, be responsible and thoughtful in your responses
- Have your felony-free spouse, friend or family to sign the lease agreement on your behalf.
- Present to him your bank statement.
Can a felon get federal housing?
Yes. It’s possible to qualify for federal housing section 8 with a felony. However, it depends largely on the type of crime that you committed. Some serious crimes like sex crimes, drug trafficking, fraud, and assault disqualify you from this benefit.
Note that federal housing rules and regulations differ with states. Some states disqualify felonies regardless of the state of your crime.
Important things to know about felons who apply for section 8 housing assistance
- For any felon to be eligible for section 8, they should have a 5 years old conviction period. However, this depends with your residential state because some states allows a conviction of more than 10 years.
- As a felon, approval for section 8 assistance takes up to two years. Therefore, you need to find an alternative accommodation before your approval.
- Thorough credit check is conducted during your application on section 8 assistance. Therefore, if you are applying as a felon, it’s required to portray high levels of honesty.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Do most flats check criminal backgrounds?
Yes. Any landlord or property manager can do a background check on a prospective renter by the law. After conducting the background check, they can reject you if you have a criminal past. The kind of crime committed does not matter. Also, the span of time after it occurred does not matter either. While it may seem to be discriminatory, it is not permitted under the law. Note that there are cities where crime evidence from the past 7 years is void.
Therefore, “Background checks are a necessity,’’ even according to Daniel Park, who is the owner of Shadowlawn Properties in Los Angeles. He further says that there are various levels of criminal checks that exist. He says he conducts the key checks, which are criminal, expulsion, and credit. Renters can pay for a background check and the landlords will see it online.
There is a study that showed 44 percent of property owners will not ignore a criminal record. If you have a criminal background, it may not be favorable for you. But there are still available methods that you can use to locate a rental. Note, you are not the only one with such a problem. 28% of SmartMove candidates had a fault in their records. You may simply have to jump through a few more hoops to get there.
2. How to determine your eligibility for apartment rental
The only way to determine whether you qualify for an apartment rental is to apply and wait to hear back. You may create an application packet with financial information before applying. This is to see if you meet the landlord’s criteria. Here are some of the factors you need to consider:
- Requirements for Rent and Deposit.
- Conduct a credit report review.
- Inquire with the landlord about the rental agreement’s terms and conditions.
- Inquire about the landlord’s attitude toward a co-signer.
- Complete an application and communicate with the landlord.
You may still get rejected even when you are eligible. This is normally based on the number of other candidates and their strength as tenants. You can get input from the landlord to see if there is anything you can do to improve your candidacy. This is in case you are unsuccessful.
3. Is volunteering helpful in finding apartments that accept felons and evictions near me?
Yes. Volunteering is very effective in convincing your landlord to rent you an apartment with a felony. You can volunteer in any non-government organizations, churches, or community services that are in search of people to help out.
This way, your colleagues or bosses will portray a good character of you to the landlord. This is because helping out speaks volumes about your good character and commitments.
4. Can eviction hurt your chance of getting a home?
Similar to felonies, eviction can also be a stumbling block when getting an apartment. This is because most landlords assume you are irresponsible as you own rent to your previous landlord. However, worry not because there is a possibility of getting a home with eviction. This is through the following ways;
- Organize with your previous landlord to set up a payment plan for you to pay the rent money you owe him/her. This will clear your bad record
- Pay repair fee on item that you might have damaged in your previous house.
- After paying all the required fee, ask your previous landlord to remove eviction claims from your report. This way, you will get a chance of finding a new home.
5. Why do some landlords decline to rent out to felons?
For some reason, landlords decline to rent out to felons. First off, they see ex-convicts as troublesome characters. Others see felons as breakers of rules thus dangerous to other neighbors. Some landlords also fear that felons are not financially stable and might fail to pay rent arrears in time. Finally, some landlords are just biased and prefer tenants with no criminal records.
Those are some of the places where you can get an apartment if you have a felon. If you find yourself in such a fix, visit such search engines for help. Also, you can opt for the alternatives discussed to secure yourself a house. Note that it is not a guarantee that you will get a house with a felon record. Give it a trial and the high chances are you will get a shelter.