How Important is Rental History Anyway?
When applying to rent an apartment in Houston, your rental history is super important being at the top of the criteria list of what management companies and owners look for when considering you as a potential tenant. In terms of importance, rental history ranks just below criminal history.
The main reason why your rental history is so major is mainly because apartment management figures that whatever you’ve done in the past, you’re prone to repeat and thus sees you as a higher risk than someone with ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ rental history.
You could be the nicest, kindest and greatest person in the world but if you have bad rental history, those wonderful traits most likely will be overshadowed by the simple fact that you also unfortunately possess a flawed rental background.
Though not as bad as evictions, previous broken leases are a big red flag to most complexes. Still, some apartment managers might work with you if you are up front about it upon your first visit to or contact with the property. It just all depends on their company policies, usually set forth by the owner(s).
Sometimes, they’ll look at the underlying circumstances as to why you had broken your lease. If it’s something they feel is legitimate,such as “Job Relocation” or “Family Emergency” as examples, then there are greater odds they’ll take that into consideration in the approval process.
There might be other circumstances too which will give them cause to take a second look. So, if you feel you had a good reason for breaking a prior lease, by all means explain your case in detail and it’s best to do so in person as opposed to text, phone or email. Go dressed professionally as if you were applying for a job…you know, first impressions.
They’ll also take notice if you broke your lease owing money to any previous landlords. If you don’t owe anything, then your chances are a whole lot better; however, if you do have an outstanding balance, that makes things worse. The new place certainly doesn’t want the same kind of treatment.
If you’ve broken a lease in the past and know you still owe that landlord, then it’s a good idea to pay it off first before even applying for another rental somewhere else. If you’re unsure if you owe anything or don’t know the amount, simply contact the manager where you broke the lease and ask. Also, if you’re unable to pay the amount in full, ask if you can start a payment plan.
Either way, complete payoff or payment plan, be sure to get it in writing and signed. Then bring that receipt or letter (as proof) with you to the new complex you’re applying for…it will make a huge difference in your favor!
There’s no guarantee that any given complex will approve you with a broken lease even if you follow the advice above but it will definitely improve the probability greatly!
Also, if you have a broken lease, it never hurts to have someone go to bat for you and speak kind words on your behalf. A good reputable Houston apartment locator who has a good rapport with lots of management companies, would be the perfect choice for that situation.
If you’ve been evicted (asked to vacate a property) in the past, that is much harder to negotiate than a broken lease. Once again, be up front about it. In either case, a broken lease or eviction, if you try to “slide it by them” by omitting it on your application, the likelihood of their “catching it” is high, especially these days with advanced technology and shared databases. And if they find out that you’ve falsified that vital information on the application, they’ll probably keep your app fee along with your deposit. Trying to get your money refunded, will probably be an uphill battle which you’ll most likely lose.
But even with an eviction, there’s still hope. Once again and more than ever, you’ll want the help of a good reputable Houston apartment locator who already knows which management companies and complexes might work with that situation and save you time, money and lots of aggravation–but still no guaranties.
Also, in either the case of a prior broken lease or eviction, once you find favor with an apartment willing to give second chances, don’t be surprised if they ask for a higher deposit and/or two or more month’s rent up front.
It is so important to always do everything possible to protect your rental history. Keep open communications in a friendly civilized manner with your manager/landlord before breaking a lease or getting evicted (even if you feel justified at the time). Try to work things out first. If that still goes nowhere, then you might contact The Houston Apartment Association (https://www.haaonline.org) or file an online complaint with them at: https://www.haaonline.org/Custom/RR_Complaint_Form/default.aspx. You may also consider obtaining legal counsel.
Simply put, try to avoid at all costs getting bad rental history–it will most likely come back to haunt you if and when you ever want to rent any type of home again, not only in Houston but the entire country.