Finding Housing When You’re Down on Your Luck

When you’re down on your luck, the entire world can feel like it’s against you. It can be hard to make small decisions, like what to eat in a day or how much gas to put in your car. Even if you have money in the bank, losing a job can take its toll on anyone.

That problem is compounded when you need to find a place to stay or are in the process of finding an apartment to rent. Credit checks, employment history, paystubs and other data related to your job helps landlords determine if you’re a good candidate to rent to. Here are some tips to help yourself when life takes one of its inconvenient turns for the worse.

Check Your Options

If you’re between jobs, and underemployed, you may want to check Section 8 eligibility. Even if you have a full-time job, you may qualify for housing assistance that can give you some much-needed breathing room. Eligibility is determined by the size of a family who applies for the voucher, and the annual income for that group.

Section 8 vouchers are designed for extremely low-income families, the elderly and disabled. They help families choose suitable housing, and can be instrumental in providing a step up for some. Public housing is also available through HUD, but you may want to look into roommates as well.

Someone reliable can help you split the costs and give you a bit of control over your living situation.

Another option explored by some is to rent out an Airbnb or vacation rental. Monthly rentals are costly, but they avoid the hassle of dealing with a lease agreement and credit check during a time in one’s life where every problem hurts.

Maintain Good Credit

If you can manage, pay your monthly rotating bills on time for as long as possible. Cancel anything you don’t immediately need so you don’t waste your money. A good history free of missed payments makes you a more acceptable candidate to rent to, even if your current situation is not the best.

Good credit shows you’re fiscally responsible and will most likely fulfill the obligations of your lease. Having excellent credit can sometimes be a substitute for current employment, but do not expect this to be your free ticket in for every landlord. Every credit and applicant check involves a different process with other caveats that can disqualify you (such as a criminal record).

Deposits Help

If you’re not employed, but you can make a cash deposit, you can often find a way to make something work. This assumes you have decent credit. Excellent credit is best, but a passable score and a cash deposit are usually enough to get a room. This is especially true if you have a roommate involved.

It may be a good idea to earmark a certain portion of your funds to pay rent up front. It’s inevitable the landlord will figure out you’re unemployed or underemployed, but it’s not likely to become an issue unless you can’t pay. Focus on finding work in the meantime, content that you have an apartment you can call home.

Outside the Box

A renter’s resume is a fairly new concept that’s been gaining some traction in recent years. The idea is to create a profile of your history as a renter, including any positive comments you’ve received from landlords. Document your history, including how inspections have gone and your expected income level. Include companies you’ve worked for as well, especially if they are big names.

Don’t be afraid to speak with local authorities on housing either. They may have resources specific to your city or state and are often a good place to start your search if you lack a support network at home.

About the Author