Dear Liz: My wife and I sold our house and have to be out by the end of the month, but we can’t find a place to live because of our bad credit. If we don’t move out, we will lose the sale and still have to pay the real estate agent his commission. We’ve applied with about 65 landlords and each one checked our credit, which has caused our scores to fall further. We live on Social Security checks of $1,367 a month. We’re in our 70s and not in good health and we don’t need this stress. Help!
Answer: Having a guaranteed income is attractive to a landlord, but the fact that you’re having credit problems would be a big concern to many. Landlords worry that you’ll mismanage your money and won’t be able to pay the rent.
Not every landlord does a credit check, however. If you steer clear of big apartment complexes run by professional management companies, you may find that individual “mom and pop” landlords are more willing to be flexible — particularly if your credit problems were a temporary problem and have been fixed by selling your home. You may be able to seal the deal by offering to pay several months’ rent upfront, perhaps from the proceeds of your sale, said attorney Stephen Elias, author of “The Foreclosure Survival Guide.”
You can start your search for sympathetic landlords by asking your real estate agent for referrals or checking the rental listings on Craigslist for postings that appear to be made by individuals rather than management companies.
Another option is to ask someone to co-sign the lease with you. The co-signer’s good credit could help you get the place, but if you fail to pay your rent, the co-signer’s credit will suffer.