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Can I Rent an Apartment if I Have Debt in Collection?

Dena Standley | January 22, 2024

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: If you're being sued for debt, you can still find ways to rent an apartment. SoloSuit can help you fight off debt collectors and get back to your life.

Having some debt is almost inevitable; it's part of life. However, when you're dealing with a delinquent account, things can get a little bit complicated.

It's challenging to convince a prospective landlord that you'll be a reliable tenant when you're already behind in existing debts. All hope is not lost, though.

Even when dealing with debt collectors, you can still rent an apartment. Try the following suggestions to find a property manager willing to rent to you, even if you have less than stellar credit:

  • Find a guarantor
  • Offer a higher security deposit
  • Get recommendation letters
  • Consider mom-and-pop landlords
  • Increase your income

Landlords, who are independent individuals renting out their own property, often have more flexibility than property management companies.

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Confirm your credit score in advance

Debt can significantly affect your credit score and, as a result, your reputation as a tenant. Most landlords will want to check your credit score before accepting you as a tenant. They're required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to get your permission before accessing your credit information.

Why not beat them to it? If you suspect that you may have a low credit score, it's best to find out before going apartment hunting. You'll need to check your credit score with the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to ensure that none of them has any errors. Get your free annual report here.

If you encounter any debts you don't recognize, double-check them first to ensure that these are legitimate debts that belong to you. If you suspect these debts were put on your report in error, you can dispute them with the credit reporting agency. You can also use Solosuit's Debt Validation Letter to confirm any debts you don't recognize.

Find yourself a guarantor

You can boost your chances of finding an apartment to lease by finding someone who can vouch for your financial responsibility. This person could be a relative, a friend, or an employer who trusts you enough to co-sign the rental agreement.

The guarantor is usually someone whose finances are in order, without any debts in collection. It's easier for the landlord to trust you when you're backed up by someone reliable.

Remember that the landlord has the right to go after your guarantor should you fail to honor your agreement. It is a serious responsibility and can lead to your guarantor having to pay your debt or sacrifice their own credit rating if you fail to pay your rent. That can damage a personal relationship, so make sure you are economically stable enough to handle the rent before asking someone to take this step.

Offer a higher security deposit

Most landlords require you to pay the equivalent of one month's rent as a security deposit.However, if you're in debt, it's preferable to offer more than the minimum security deposit. Offer to pay up to 3 or more months rent equivalent. The landlord may be convinced of your reliability when you pay so much upfront.

Remember that a previous eviction stays in your records for seven years. It's best to use this option if you're sure your past is clean.

Obtain recommendation letters

Just because you're behind in debt repayment doesn't mean you are a bad tenant.

You may prove your reliability by obtaining recommendation letters from previous landlords. These letters explain to the prospective landlord that you've always prioritized your rent obligations no matter your financial situation.

Your current employer can also be of help. Have them write a letter to the landlord confirming that your current employment is secure. If the landlord knows you won't be running into financial difficulties soon, they may consider your application.

Hard times can hit anytime, but as long as you prove you're reliable, you can still rent an apartment with debt in collection.

Consider smaller properties with landlords

Mom-and-pop landlords are individual apartment owners. They aren't part of major corporations, making it easier to connect on a personal level.

Even if they find out you're in debt, you can explain your situation to them in person. You may choose to write a letter explaining how you got yourself into debt arrears.

Loss of employment, divorce, extensive illness, and the like may be the reason you fell behind. Individual landlords are more likely to empathize with your situation.

Increase your income

You can quickly get back on track with debt repayment if you increase your income.Prove to the prospective landlord that your income has increased and you can afford rent with no issues.

Some ways to increase your income include:

  • Getting a second job
  • Monetizing your hobby
  • Selling assets you don't need

You can also save funds by going for cheaper apartments. If your income is three or more times the equivalent of the rent, you're likely to stay on track with your financial obligations.

Granted, renting an apartment if you have debt in collection can be daunting. However, it's not impossible. Find the option that works for you and go for it. Be sure to validate every debt with SoloSuit's Debt Validation Letter before paying it off. For all you know, you could be paying off the incorrect amount, a debt past the statute of limitations, or a fraudulent debt. Stand up to debt collectors by sending them a Debt Validation Letter (most collectors give up after receiving one), or consider debt settlement.

Settle your debt

The surest way to get debt collectors off your back is by paying what you owe. But if you go about this wisely, you can usually settle your debt for a steep discount.

In a debt settlement, you offer your creditor a portion of the total amount due, usually at least 60% of the debt’s value. In exchange for a lump-sum payment, the creditor agrees to drop its legal claims against you and release you from the remaining balance.

If you decide to settle your obligation, you’ll want to ensure you get the terms of your agreement in writing and pay the creditor before your court date. If you’ve never tried debt settlement before, consider working with a professional organization that will guide you through the process.

To learn more about how to settle a debt, check out this video:

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, is a tech-based approach to debt settlement. Our software helps you send and receive settlement offers until you reach an agreement with the collector. Once an agreement is reached, we’ll help you manage the settlement documentation and transfer your payment to the creditor or debt collector, helping you keep your financial information private and secure.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

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