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Renting a Home After Bankruptcy

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Despite the fact that credit reports are widely acknowledged to contain inaccuracies― for example, wrongly listed accounts, computer errors showing delinquencies where there were none, or discharged debts still showing up after bankruptcy―more and more of our interactions are touched by the huge industry that is credit reporting. Virtually every kind of loan will hinge on the information in your report, and even landlords will now require you to sign your consent to have your credit history checked along with the more standard criminal background checks.

If you are a renter and have declared bankruptcy, or are thinking about it, you may be concerned about how a bankruptcy on your record will affect your ability to find a new rental situation, or even to keep your current one. Before considering strategies for success in your rental search, keep in mind that lots of missed payments and delinquent accounts look worse on your credit report than a bankruptcy. A bankruptcy is your chance to start over and get control of your financial situation.

If you are not planning on moving, declaring bankruptcy will almost certainly not affect your living situation, since your landlord is very unlikely to find out about your bankruptcy unless you tell him about it.  On the other hand, you may encounter some trouble with finding a new situation if you listed your current landlord in your bankruptcy. However, these difficulties are far from insurmountable.

The best strategy for finding a new rental situation after bankruptcy is to deal with private landlords or connections you have made through personal networking. Private landlords are less likely to be uncompromising in their credit check policies, more likely to deal with you fairly and listen to your side of things, and more likely not to bother with a credit check at all. The classified section of the local paper is a good place to look for apartments or houses for rent from private landlords. Another great place to look is on-line: classified services such as Craig's List will often provide pictures of the property and more details than will be included in newspaper classifieds. The website for Craig's List is www.craigslist.org.

Another good strategy is to ask your friends and relatives if they know about rental situations, if they can recommend you to renters, or if they themselves are renting and can introduce you to their landlord. That personal touch is often what you need to get someone to consider you beyond what it says in your credit report.

Rental applications generally ask if you have declared bankruptcy, so it is a good policy to be open about having filed if it comes up. Many management companies have rules about renting to people with two or more accounts that are past due or habitually paid late. Again, remember that declaring bankruptcy actually helps you take care of the negative information in your credit report. Make sure to check your credit report to ensure that derogatory accounts that ought to have been discharged with your bankruptcy are no longer listed as delinquent. After a bankruptcy, you can improve your chances of finding a new rental by working to repair your credit history. One good way to do this is through steady payments to a credit card that reports to the credit bureaus regularly. Another great method is to request a letter of reference from your current landlord that testifies to your timely payments. This shows your new landlord that you will take your responsibilities as a tenant seriously.

Renting after bankruptcy is not so hard after all, so there's no need to be cowed by the prospect of a landlord's credit check.

From: The Law Offices of John T. Orcutt, with convenient office locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, and Wilson. Call (toll free) 1-888-234-4181, to set up a free, confidential debt consultation. Visit www.billsbills.com for more information.

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