Renting in Spite of Bad Credit
You may have had financial troubles, but bad credit doesn't have to keep you from finding rental accommodations.
The best way to establish good credit and repair bad credit is to pay off debts and get a receipt or a letter from the landlord to confirm your rent payments. When applying for accommodations, bring this confirmation as proof. Being honest and up front with prospective landlords could make them favour your rental application, regardless of past credit difficulties. Knowing that you pay your rent on time is becoming more important to landlords than credit in other areas. Use a recent landlord as personal reference, if required.
Help when Money is Tight
A rent bank assists people when they cannot pay the rent on time. Available in some Canadian cities, rent banks offer various levels of assistance. Some rent banks provide for one month's rent only, while others provide no-interest or low-interest emergency loans for multiple months with flexible repayment schedules. Some rent banks do not require that money be repaid at all. The best way to find out if there is a rent bank in your community is to ask staff at the local municipality, resource centres or community organizations.
Each rent bank operates differently and you must meet certain requirements to qualify for assistance. Be sure to check with your local rent bank as soon as you anticipate financial difficulties to ensure that you can qualify.
Rent geared-to-income (RGI), sometimes called subsidized, non-profit or social housing, is rent charged at a fixed percentage of the tenant's income, usually 30%. Tenants charged rent geared-to-income pay less than they would for the same unit in the private market. Because of the lower cost, these rentals have requirements that tenants must meet before applying. There may be a waiting list for RGI housing.
There are many different programs available across the country to support and provide subsidized housing to Canadians. These programs vary from one municipality to another, so the best starting point is to contact your local municipal offices.
Other Sources of Help
You may find help from community organizations, friends or family. Sometimes an understanding employer or landlord will be the best solution for a temporary setback.
Community and religious organizations may provide help if you cannot make rent payments. Charity organizations can usually provide assistance in other areas, from food and clothing to secondhand goods and daycare, which may ease some of the financial pressure when making rent payments.
To find these organizations, ask friends and others you know in the local community. Your local MPP's office should also be able to help. Even if you do not belong to a particular faith, often their community services are available to those in need.
Some of these assistance programs also have specific requirements and waiting lists and the amount of assistance may be limited.
Depending on the relationship you have with your landlord, you could negotiate a partial rent payment in exchange for providing services, such as yard maintenance or painting. Such agreements work best for a short-term or one-time-only situation. Chronically missing part of your rent payment will not leave a good impression with your landlord and may lead to your landlord taking legal action against you.
Approaching family or friends for assistance is another possibility, even if you feel uncomfortable doing so. Also, consider discussing an advance in next month's pay with your employer.