No credit check for an apartment on the North Side of Chicago?
January 18, 2013 5:31 PM   Subscribe

Poor credit and varying work hours, but mom needs a new apartment in Chicago.

My mom has been living in the same apartment since she moved to Chicago in 2006. She has struggled financially since she moved here and, as a result, has had trouble paying rent on time on more than one occasion. In 2008, her leasing company attempted to evict her in court, but the case was dismissed. Because of her long history of struggling financially, her credit is bad (more fair than poor, though). She's currently working a job that has hours that change regularly based on the work that they have - one week could be 40 hours, the next just 10.

Today she got a notice from her landlords that the rent will be going up $80 effective April 1, which would be the start date for her new lease. She can't afford the rent with this hike, and she really wants to move.. but she knows that with her credit, she would likely be unable to pass a credit check.

Can anyone recommend a leasing company/landlord on the North Side of Chicago that would not conduct a credit check or, alternatively, would not care about less than stellar credit? She's currently living in Rogers Park.
posted by anotheraccount to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you will have a hard time with a leasing company. They tend to be really, really strict about that stuff. (I've been turned down, in spite of a decent income and savings, because roommates have had no credit - not even bad credit, just no credit.)

My landlord did not run a credit check on us, but I suspect that's because we had a good reference from our previous landlord and proof of income. With no references and poor-to-fair credit, honestly, she's likely to need a co-signer. I feel like your best bet would be to find a person who owns a small building or rents out part of a home they live in - an individual human is more likely to be sympathetic and trusting than a company will be. Or if she's willing to live with other people, maybe sublet a room? (I guess you could sublet a whole apartment, but usually landlords are pickier about credit checks when you do that.)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 7:07 PM on January 18, 2013

While I cannot answer the Chicago-specific question, I wanted to give you a suggestion in general that will help landlords look past the credit issue--a rental resume. The resume should highlight what a fantastic tenant she will be, so include anything germane and flattering. Does she have pets? If so, a description of how they are well-behaved & not destructive might help. If not, mention that she has no pets--a lot of landlords prefer that. Is she a quiet tenant? Does she want a long-term housing situation? Has she worked at her job for a long time? Basically, the rental resume is a chance to highlight any positive qualities that may not come across in a standard application and will also humanize your mom so that she's not just an application with fair credit.
posted by studioaudience at 7:13 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know someone who used to live in a building at the corner of Lawrence and Lake Shore Drive, a mid-rise, that didn't run credit checks - or if they did, they didn't care that my friend had poor credit at that time. Not a bad building. Great views, decent neighbors, right on the bus line, not too far from the El. Right across the street from a nursing home. Sorry I can't remember the number.
posted by kythuen at 7:25 PM on January 18, 2013

Is she in a position to afford the costs of moving including security deposits on utilities and such? Moving is an expensive undertaking particularly for someone with poor credit who may have to pay additional security deposits.
posted by 26.2 at 8:35 PM on January 18, 2013

OK, the more I think about this, the more I think that a sublet is the way to go. Hopefully by the time her sublease is over, she'll have built up some credibility with the landlord by paying her rent and utilities on time every month, so renewing the lease won't be a hassle.

Craigslist has about a billion sublets listed - I wasn't sure about your mom's price point, but I was able to find a couple of studios for under $600, and lots of shared spaces (1BR in a 3BR, etc.) for around $400. (Of course if her price point is higher, she will have more options.) A few of the listings mention a required background/credit check, but most don't.

Good luck!
posted by goodbyewaffles at 7:30 AM on January 19, 2013

Adding to the advice about going with small-time landlords and a rental resume, have her include personal/professional references even if she doesn't have them from landlords. It says something that she has people in her life who will say good things about her. Many people don't.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:56 AM on January 19, 2013

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