Your chances of renting an apartment with a felony record is close to zero… I hate saying it, but it is the truth and it is not going to change. Our organization, Help for Felons, has worked with thousands of felons that need housing.
There are a few “felon friendly” apartment management companies but they are few and far between. In this guide we will show you many ways to find an apartment with a felony.
Guide on Finding Felon Friendly Apartments and Housing
Finding felon friendly apartments or housing for rent can be an exceedingly difficult task, much more so nowadays than it has been in the past. Our organization hears from thousands of felons each year that are turned down by landlords and property management groups.
Poor credit can also make apartment hunting problematic for felons. When you couple poor credit and a criminal background finding an apartment can seem nearly impossible, frustrating, and expensive.
Is it fair… @#&^ No! But it is the reality that we all must live with.
Option 1 – Find a small-time landlord
Start with landlords that have a few properties rather than these huge apartment complexes that are owned by property management groups. Often these landlords will be more open to renting to someone with a felony. Better yet some of these landlords will not even run a background check.
Where to look
Craigslist believe it or not is probably the best place to find felon friendly apartments and housing. The reason for this is because most of the advertisers on Craigslist are small time landlords, meaning they only own one or two rental units. Some of them will not even run a background check. If they do utilize criminal background checks, you can speak with them face to face to explain your past.
Other websites like Zillow and Realtor also have listing by individual landlords.
How to search
When you go to craigslist select the state that you live in then select the city that is nearest to you. Find the housing section and then you can search for apartments and housing. You can even input your maximum and minimum rent cost.
When browsing through all of the listings look for townhouses, duplexes, single-family homes and trailers. Stay away from large apartment complexes that advertise on Craigslist.
Option 2 – Apartment Management Companies
If you have any type of felony, even an old one you are going to run into issues. It is still possible for you to get an apartment with some of these companies though.
How to get an apartment
Lie… On your application check no to “Criminal Record.” I would not attempt doing this at newly constructed apartment complexes or those in a “hip” part of town. Older properties or those apartments in a less than desirable part of town may not run background checks.
If the apartment complex is running a tight budget it is possible, they will never run the background check. I assure you that this does happen from time to time. They take your application fee and pocket the money rather than spend it on the background check.
The downside to doing this is that you are going to end up spending money on application fees and will get denied but it may be worth the effort.
Keep in mind that large apartments complexes and management companies want you to have an income three times greater than the rent. In other words, if the rent is 500 dollars a month you need to be making about $1,500 a month in income.
What apartment complexes want to see
Option 3 – Use an Apartment and Housing Expert
Rule number one is do NOT give any of these people money. If they want money it is a scam.
There are people and companies out there that specialize in helping people with felony convictions find apartments and housing. Search google and craigslist for these apartment experts and reach out to them. They will get a kickback from the apartment complex that you lease with, no money will come out of your pocket.
Option 4 – Airbnb Rentals and Others
Airbnb has changed the way people find short, medium- and long-term rentals. Do they rent to felons? Is there a background check? In short, sort of.
What I can tell you is they never check “additional guests” backgrounds. So, if your significant other or a friend books with Airbnb and you are listed as an additional guest, they will never run your background.
There are also many other companies like Airbnb out there and they may not even run a background check. You can find a list of Airbnb’s competitors and alternatives here.
Option 5 – Reentry programs
There are thousands of reentry programs in the united states. Some are great and genuinely want to help while others and others not so much. It is worth your time to investigate these organizations since they may be able to refer you to someone that will rent to you. They may have contacts within local government and communities that could help you in a big way.
Option 6 – Have Someone Rent for You
Have a friend, family member or whoever fill out the application and “rent” the apartment for you. If it is a large complex, they will never know that you are the one living there.
Option 7 – Public Housing Authorities
Housing authorities (also known as HUD) are local government offices in the United States that governs housing within a city or county. They often provide low cost rent/low income or free housing to people in need.
This is a great place for you to check out first to see what they have available. Some housing authorities will have housing for felons available for you to move into. If there is no housing or apartments available, then at least you can get on their waiting list.
Housing authorities will base you rent off how much money you make per year. If your income is below the national poverty level, then you will be given a discounted rate. If your income is far below the poverty level, then you will pay very little or could possibly qualify for free housing. This should not be confused with section 8 HUD housing.
Several the housing authorities out there will have felon friendly apartments, but it is possible that you may have to go through a waiting period. Sometimes this waiting period may range from three, six or twelve months from the time of release or conviction.
Each housing authorities’ policies will vary slightly depending on the state and city that you reside in. Remember that you will want to visit their office as soon as possible since there may be a waiting a list.
Option 8 – Long Term Hotels and Motels (Extended Stay)
There are several hotels and motels that offer month to month renting options with NO BACKGROUND CHECK at all. Your best bet is to show up to these places and talk to them. Often extended stay motels are owned by a real person and they will cut you a deal. Econo-Lodges are often owned by a person that lives in the hotel. Look around and check all the hotels and motels in your area.
Option 9 – Subletting is an Option for Felons
This is a great option to easily find affordable housing quickly when you have a criminal record. Subletting is when you take over someone’s lease that needs out of the lease. Maybe they need to move for whatever reason, but they cannot because they are stuck in a lease. You take over their lease and move in with no background check. The person that is subletting to you is not going to run a criminal record check. The downside is that this is only a temporary fix. Check on places like craigslist, use the search term “sublet” when looking and you might get lucky.
Option 10 – Have your felony record expunged
Expunging your record will not only allow you to rent anywhere you want but will also make things like finding jobs much easier. Not all states allow expungement/sealing though, you can find out more here.
Having your record expunged is a fancy word for having your criminal record erased. Many people assume that this is awfully expensive, but it is not as much as most people assume in some cases.
Option 11 – Government Referrals
It never hurts to check with other local government offices and officials. Talk to your parole officer and see if they can help you out by giving you a list of felon friendly housing options in your area.
You can also talk with any re-entry programs that are in your area also as they may have some leads for you. Many states also have re-entry information for ex-offenders available from your state’s department of corrections.
Option 12 – Rooms for Rent and Roommates
No fun, we know. It is an option though if you have nothing else going for you. Often you can find someone that has already rented an apartment or house and you can pay rent to them rather than “officially” renting from the apartment complex.
Option 13 – Friends and Family
Yes, this is kind of lame to put on this list but remember to ask around, talk to people and see if you can find someone that knows a small-time landlord.
Option 14 – Money talks louder than you do!
Here we are talking about small time landlords, not the big corporate apartment complexes that will almost NEVER RENT TO FELONS! Landlords rent apartments for only one reason, to make money.
If you can make them feel comfortable, are financially stable and will pay your rent on time you have a better chance of them renting to you. If you can pay two- or three-months’ rent upfront, on the spot with cash they may make a snap decision and rent to you. I know, I know… Most people cannot afford to do this but if it helps one person it is worth it.
The best housing solution for felons
The best solution is for you to buy a house. Think that is impossible? It is not, I promise. Most banks do not require a large down payment for houses anymore. Often you can get qualified with as little as 5 or 10 percent down.
There are no background checks when you buy a house. The bank will only request a credit score and financial information. If you can get a co-barrower you will improve your chances of getting approved for a mortgage.
Additional Tips For finding Felon Friendly Apartments and Housing
Below you will find some useful information and tips on finding felon friendly housing and apartments.
- Always be honest and upfront with small time landlords that you are a felon IF they are going to run a background check. If someone is going to rent to you, they either will or they won’t. If you say nothing and the landlord finds out down the road it will appear as if you were being deceptive.
- If you know for sure that the landlord is not going to run a background check then you can simply not say anything unless they ask.
- Do not stress and do not get mad. If you meet with a landlord and they will not rent to you be kind and courteous regardless. You never know what the future holds, you may very well get a call later down the road if they cannot find anyone else to rent to.
- Remember that when people hear the word felon, they automatically think you are dangerous and/or violent. Break that stereotype by explaining what and how you made a mistake in the past.
- Make a good first impression. Dress nicely and shake their hand. Ask questions about the property and pay attention to any details that they give you.
We wish you the best
We at Help for Felons wish you all the best in finding a nice place to live. If you have questions or comments please contact us. If you have or know of a felon friendly apartment complex let us know also. Good Luck!