Housing for felons has always been challenging especially if you are a felon who has recently been released from the prison just like jobs for felons. What is even unfortunate is property managers and landlords quickly turn down the housing application the moment they find that you have a criminal background.
Having said the reality, does it mean felon friendly housing does not exist? Obviously not! If you have felt the same way as in the statements above, then your searching methodology is wrong and you need to read this article to just get the right house for you effortlessly!
Where to find felon friendly apartments?
The #1 question that every felon has is where to search for rent apartments that are felon welcoming. From online sites to paper advertisements, there is absolutely no clue if the listed rent apartments are open to felons. So how do you actually begin your search?
Housing For Felons
Before you search, keep in mind that the state housing law requires every property owner to conduct a background check and reject requests that include criminal records.
- Don’t go with property managers.
Sometimes, property managers are stringent in the selection of the right tenant for the apartment. If your felony is over 10 years, then you have higher chances of getting a particular apartment for rent. Otherwise, it is better to avoid getting in contact with property management groups and also independent managers who can just delay the events.
If you were to talk us the easiest and reliable way to find an apartment for rent or housing, we would bravely recommend Craigslist. The reason is that this portal includes landlords that own about a couple of rental units and do not stress on a background check.
Once you land at the website of Craigslist, select the state and the housing section. Don’t go to apartment complexes that are managed by the property managers. Instead, choose small portions that are directly managed by the owner. One common mistake carried out by felons looking out for housing is that they choose apt/housing as the preferred category instead of rooms/shared or alternatively, sublets/temporary. As a result, they fall voluntarily for the scrutinization.
Things to keep in mind when you use Craigslist to find an apartment for rent-
- It is okay to take basement rentals as well, to begin with.
- Go through the listing thoroughly and find out if there is information on the background check part. Do not blindly show interest in a property just because it is listed on this website.
- The key to finding a felon property is to choose low-income towns where the demand is less and landlords get desperate to rent out their properties.
- Housing authority boards
One trustworthy place where you can find affordable rentals housing apartment for rent granted by the government is housing authority boards. These govern the housing options available in a country and tend to offer cheaper or even free housing option to felony and other people who are denied of houses.
All the listings are as per the fair housing act as proposed by the government. If your income is way too less and you cannot afford for homes, you may have to register in these boards and your application will remain under the waiting list.
Remember that some of you might be qualified for section 8 HUD public housing program. You only come to know if you are qualified only when you take the necessary effort. Unfortunately, sex offenders, drug traffickers and criminals engaged in violence might be disqualified for such programs.
- Community pillar program by Zillow
Zillow, a reputed search engine, has taken an initiative to connect individuals with landlords who are flexible enough to offer felony tenants a second chance in their lives. This is a community program meant to provide struggling felony individuals home in the country. A number of landlords have already expressed their interests to relax the housing rentals standards and criteria so as to help deserving individuals.
- Referrals and reentry firms
Did you know that you can take the recommendation of your parole officer to get the best friendly local rent apartment and take the deal forward? Of course, you may feel hesitant but a lot of government officials are eager to help felons with criminal backgrounds.
Contrarily, you can also talk to re-entry programs scheduled in your region. These re-entry programs primarily target ex-offenders to become a part of the correctional programs and find reliable housing options in the locality. These are the less-known options that people try but you can certainly get enough leads from them.
- Choose private residence
When you choose a private residence posted by the owner directly, it is possible for you to strike a personal conversation with her/him and give the assurance that renting out to you will not cause damages. Some landlords of private residences might not even ask your credit score or conduct a background check when you already establish a quality relationship.
- Associate with non-profits
Are you the one who does not have an immediate job or works part-time? It is high time that you volunteer at a local community organization or non-profit so you can establish connections. As you meet new people, you can easily get their references and take their help to find a felon friendly apartment. During your volunteering period, you may have to genuinely work for the cause and display your commitment. When you deviate from the objective, you lose the big opportunity waiting for you behind.
Also Read: Does Walmart Do Background Checks?
- Use your resources
Sometimes, taking your friend’s or family’s help in this process can do wonders. It does not only help you get the right home but also give the landlord a guarantee that the house has been rented or leased out to the right person.
Now that you know the communities to find felon apartments, the next thing is to know how to approach the landlord.
How to approach the landlord of felon friendly apartment
Sometimes, the difficulty does not actually lie in finding the house but approaching the landlord and gaining her/his trust in the first instance.
As a felon, it is agreeable that you may be guilty about the conviction but remember, it is just the mindset that you will have to work on before you reach your landlord. When you get nervous to your landlord, you are more unlikely to be granted of a felon apartment.
- The #1 reason for landlords to feel hesitant about renting a property to them is the delay in payment. Since they are also denied of jobs, it is nearly impossible to expect timely payments of rental amounts from them. When you approach the real estate landlord, you should either highlight in rental application that you have saved enough money to pay the rental fee for the next few months or alternatively, mention about the job and the salary you receive that can suffice the rental charge. This will give them the hope to sign a lease or rental agreement with you.
- The #2 reason for landlords to deny houses is due to the low morale of felons. Irrespective of when you were released from the prison, your character and efforts taken to transform yourself on the right path should be evident in your activities. When the landlord asks questions on your criminal history, stay honest. Convey the issue completely and continue with the action plan to lead a better life. This will let them trust you.
- Do not go alone when you approach the landlord in person. You can either go with a reference member who does not possess a criminal history and sign the agreement on your behalf or carry the character reference letter signed by authoritative individuals of the society. This will increase the chances of getting an apartment for rent or lease.
- Focus excessively on your outlook. Your outlook speaks volumes about your character. Dress in neat clothing and project your positive attitude in the way you communicate and your body language.
Imagine how you prepare for an interview at an organization that hires felons. You need to prepare the same way so as to be granted housing for felons. Begin with your attitude and achieve stability in your life.
Know your housing terms
The housing terms are generally stringent when it is rented out to a felon. Not every landlord is happy about renting to you! So, as you meet the landlord and sign the agreement, make sure you know what the terms are and if they are as per the state law. If you are unclear of a term, take the help of a felon community group in the locality or attorney.
You should tell your landlord 4 major points – monthly income, rental history, credit score, and criminal background. Staying transparent right at the beginning will help your landlord to understand you better and arrive at the perfect rental criteria.
Once your landlord consents your application, you may have to ask the following questions and get the answers in writing –
- Income requirement on a monthly basis from the property
- Credit score criteria expected by the landlord
- Past records when the landlord had declined applications of felons for different reasons
- Rental history and requirements that have been met by the previous tenants
Once you get the necessary information on the rental criteria, you can come to an understanding whether your application will fit or not and if your tenancy will be stress-free. In several cases, landlords instantly accept the moment they gain trust in your image but later doubt on your affordability and character and eventually, turn your tenancy period stressful. Let this not happen to you!
Analyze every criterion as conveyed by your landlord. You may also ask the consequences if the criteria are not met and get them in writing.
- Detail the criminal issue that you have encountered and how your life has changed and the efforts you have taken for a better life.
- List out the methods you adopted with pieces of evidence to inform the landlord that you wanted to get out of your past conviction.
- Ask if the landlord is interested to provide an additional time when you don’t pay the rental amount on time.
- Check out if the landlord is flexible with the criteria mentioned earlier.
All these need to be in the form of writing so it can help both the parties to take a call when a violation happens. Once the writing is done, compare it with the state law to check out if any accepted regulation is against the law.
What does the law say
It is in support of felons who wanted a second chance to live a better life. This is the sole purpose of reentry programs and section 8 HUD. According to federal regulation, it is strictly discouraged for landlords to deny housing in the name of religion or gender or your sexual orientation.
If you are a sex offender, the only option for you is to reach out to community organizations, establish references and then restart your career. The law insists landlords focus more on what the person has done as a service after the release from prison irrespective of the years passed by.
According to state regulations, landlords need to set criteria that are realistic and benefit both the parties. When they are unrealistic, they have the right to discuss with an attorney and fix mutually agreeable obligations. It is not really stringent on those who are not sex offenders and it gives importance to fair housing act rights.
Housing for felons is no more a nightmare with the constant upgrade of law and the community efforts taken to support inclusivity. A number of community organizations and business centers are welcoming them with complex criminal records to take up jobs and carry out various activities that can give them money and housing too.
Perhaps, there are felon friendly housing apartments in every state but the criteria of a property manager or the landlord can vary from case to case. The key to easing the process is to land up at the right website, get leads, approach genuinely, develop the agreement and prepare yourself for the second life.