How to Get Into a Section 8 Apartment With Poor Credit

After you’ve made some legal or financial mistakes, it can be very hard getting back onto your feet. Finding affordable housing for low-income families is difficult when credit and/or background checks are required.

If you know that your checks won’t come back looking so good, don’t give up hope. You may be able to negotiate with the landlord so that you can stay at the property.

Finding a place

There are programs that assist low-income families and individuals in their hunt for housing. Among them include charities, religious groups and state or local agencies. Payment subsidies may be available and, frequently, those programs will help applicants with the process.



If you’d prefer to find affordable housing on your own, be sure to regularly search through listings on the internet and in your local newspaper.

Expect Screening

Regardless of whether or not you have a housing subsidy, landlords maintain the right to screen their potential tenants. You’ll likely have to undergo a credit check, a background check, or both. Even your local Public Housing Authority may have a policy regarding tenant screening.

Your landlord can’t screen you without your permission, so it may be advantageous to find out what he or she will be screening for ahead of time. Perhaps that knowledge will benefit you if you elect to try and diminish the results through negotiation.

As a tip, consider screening yourself! Get a copy of your credit report and examine it for errors. Even if there’s nothing incorrect, you’ll have a better idea of what your landlord will see. CLICK HERE to access and review your credit report and score from our recommended AUTHORIZED provider.

We also recommend that you complete your own background check (even if you’ve never been convicted of a crime) because it’s not uncommon for police and government agencies to have errors in their databases. CLICK HERE to run your own background check.

Finding a flexible landlord

If the unit you want to rent is owned by an independent landlord, you may be able to work out an arrangement that allows you to live in the property even without a spectacular screening. Unfortunately, any unit that is handled by a property management company will be unlikely to compromise with you. Their rules are just too rigid.

Smaller landlords are more likely to accommodate you (assuming you’re willing to bring on a cosigner or make a larger upfront security deposit). It may take some effort to find one who is comfortable with negotiating. Many times the “smallest” and most negotiable landlords are only advertising on cardboard signs and on telephone poles. You’re less likely to find them on the internet.

Be an educated tenant

You can improve your chances of having a rental application approved if you know what you’re getting into. Although they’re not available everywhere, some communities offer programs which educate tenants and potential tenants about rental living.

The instructor of a tenant education program will help you to compile a portfolio of useful documents (such as recommendations and proof of paid utilities) that help prove you are a tenant of good character. You may also learn overlooked skills such as how to keep a clean apartment and maintain a positive tenant-landlord relationship.

If you are interested in such a program, contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to find out more information.