We Asked 7 Experts for Their Best Advice on Renting After Being Evicted — Here’s What They Said

published Jul 3, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

It’s hard enough to find an affordable apartment to rent these days. But for those with an eviction on their rental record, it’s even harder. Finding a new place with a past eviction can feel like trudging up a never-ending walk-up. 

But while it may be harder to find an apartment, it’s not impossible. We sought advice from a number of real estate professionals about getting past that eviction to secure your next apartment. Here’s a list of their actionable tips.

Be honest from the start.

Honesty is the best policy, especially when you offer up the facts of your eviction first, every single source agreed.

“Being prepared to explain is the starting point,” says Nicole Beauchamp, associate broker at Sotheby’s International Realty, especially if you are looking to rent in a competitive market like New York City.

Not hiding a spotty rental history also makes financial sense, according to DJ Olojo, author of The Foreclosure Fix. Applying to apartments can cost money — and knowing who will (or who won’t) consider your application based on your history can save you time and cash.

“Some [landlords] flat out will say no, and others may have flexibility,” Olojo says. “This can save you tons of money in application fees on units you will never be able to rent.”

Line up references

Of course, your word alone won’t stand in a situation like this, so you’ll need to enlist the help of others. 

“Get references from your employer, creditors you’ve made on-time payments to, and character references who can prove you’re reliable and responsible,” says broker Bill Kowalczuk of Coldwell Banker Warburg. “You should provide as much information as possible to ease any concerns.” 

Offer more than the asking price

It should be no surprise that money talks in real estate. In some markets, you might be able to pay rent up front, but there are laws in some states like New York that now prohibit that practice. 

What you can do in New York (and possibly other competitive rental markets) is to pay more than the asking price in New York, Kowalczuk says. But if you’d rather save the bidding war for when you purchase a property, check out the next tip.

Secure a cosigner or guarantor

Adding a cosigner or guarantor to your lease could reassure landlords in light of your eviction. In fact, it might be your only option.

In areas like New York where you can no longer pay rent up front, “having a good solid guarantor would be the only way to get an apartment,” Kowalczuk says.

Demonstrate financial stability

Assuming that your eviction stemmed from nonpayment, it makes sense to “demonstrate that those circumstances no longer exist,” says Daniel Cohen, founding partner of Consumer Attorneys. “For instance, if you were laid off and couldn’t find adequate income to cover the rent, provide proof of current income and financial stability and point to your history of successful rentals prior to that unexpected hiccup.”

Pay outstanding rental debt

Addressing your past rental debt can also help you overcome an eviction. If you can’t pay it all off, set up a payment plan, says Sue Speakman-Gomez, president of HousingLink, a Minnesota nonprofit that helps people find rental housing. “Clearing this debt shows potential landlords that you’re taking responsibility,” she explains. “It will also be a step toward improving your credit history.”

Seek sublets

Beauchamp says if securing a yearlong lease is proving too difficult, consider subletting. Proving you are a good tenant, even for a shorter period of time, can help build a landlord’s faith in you.

Olojo also recommends reaching out to friends or families with space to rent—for a few years, if possible — to rebuild your rental record. 

Seek out private landlords 

Beauchamp recommends looking for “smaller or private landlords versus institutional behemoths” if you’ve been evicted in the past. This likely means more work for you during your apartment hunt, but it’s worth trying.

Seamus Nally, CEO of TurboTenant, agrees. “People often have better luck explaining their situation to private landlords in order to get approved for an apartment,” he says. 

Team up with a real estate agent

Connecting with a real estate agent is your best bet for finding rental situations willing to look past evictions on your record. “Working with an agent who has relationships with other agents and landlords would be a very good idea,” says Kowalczuk, as they know how to navigate a tricky situation. In fact, he says, “Going about this on your own wouldn’t work.”

Get the eviction settled or expunged

Of course, it might be possible to settle the matter with your former landlord and even get the eviction expunged from your record, says real estate broker Adjina Dekidjiev of Coldwell Banker Warburg. 

“Before applying for an apartment, run your own credit report to see if the eviction even appears,” she recommends. “If you have settled with them, try to get a reference letter.”

This is assuming that the eviction was for a legitimate reason, however. “If the eviction was for an illegitimate reason, you can document all records surrounding the event and petition your local court,” Kowalczuk says.

Yes, it could be awkward or even hostile going back to discuss matters with the landlord who evicted you. But the landlord or property manager is the only one who can remove a legitimate eviction from your record, according to Cohen. “However, there is no legal obligation for them to do so,” he explains. “If they refuse, take comfort in the fact that it will fall off your report after seven years.” 

If the eviction was for an illegitimate reason, Cohen highly recommends seeking legal guidance from a consumer protection lawyer. “An attorney can advise you on how to legally contest an illegitimate conviction,” he says. “Be aware that it may take time to fight this legal battle, so get started as soon as you know an eviction has been falsely reported in your name.”

There’s some good news if you do have to seek legal counsel. “If you do need to work with a lawyer to fix or remove a reported eviction, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) lets you do so without paying any out-of-pocket costs or fees,” Cohen says.