It can be challenging landing your dream apartment, but even more so when you have a criminal record. While some landlords are willing to overlook certain misdemeanors, many will reject applicants who have been convicted of felonies, especially those involving violence or capital crimes (e.g. manslaughter). Here are two tips for finding rental apartments that suit your needs.
Look for Small-Time Owners
The biggest mistake people in this situation make is trying to secure apartments administered by property management groups. These people almost always turn down applicants with felony criminal convictions. The primary reason is to avoid legal problems. If they rent to someone with a criminal record and that person injures someone on the property, the company could be held liable for damages to the victim.
Your best option is to look for small-time landlords who personally manage their rentals. Smaller landlords may not bother to run background checks, especially if applicants have high credit scores and/or stable employment. If they do, they are more likely to give people a chance if the applicants make a good impression.
While you don't have to volunteer that you were convicted of a felony, be honest and upfront with landlords if they ask about your background. Lying will only leave a bad taste in the landlord's mouth and leave them wondering if they can really trust you not to be a problem for them.
Ask for Assistance
There are a number of organizations dedicated to helping people who have served time for felonies integrate back into society. One of the services these groups offer is locating felon-friendly housing and helping applicants get approved. You can make the search for an apartment go a lot smoother by searching your local area for an organization that can help you with this issue. NPR says that some places discriminate against those with a criminal background, so an assistance organization is vital since they can make sure the Fair Housing Act is in effect and that you aren't being discriminated against.
Also, the Department of Corrections often has a list of places that will provide housing to people recently released from jail. HUD and local housing authorities will provide housing to felons; although, there is typically a long waiting list. Be aware, the type of felony you were convicted of may influence the type and how much help you can obtain. For instance, you will not be approved for Section 8 housing if you were convicted of drug trafficking or a sexual offense.
For more information about this issue or help finding felon-friendly apartments, contact a local real estate agent.