Is there a way forward from the past?

4 Replies

Hi all, I hope everyone is well and making it in these crazy days. 

*Have a question that I am hoping professionals can weigh in on. I am setting out to rent an apartment, and happy about it. But also nervous. The problem is, I have a past. At 18 (~15 yrs ago) I became a convicted felon after a very unfortunate incident driven by the INCREDIBLY stupid decision to take drugs and a horrible reaction to their effects. The details of the situation are not easy to talk about, and certainly I can see a potential landlord's trepidation when seeing them at a glance. But that is not who I was even then, and certainly not who I am now.

My life has changed in so many ways since then. I got my degree, have a great job, and, most importantly, I have been completely drug free since. Literally (knock on wood) have not had a speeding ticket since. I have excellent family support (and have been living the past few years in a family owned property. My question is essentially, as landlords, would you give me a chance? I get all kinds of advice from people, ranging from "just don't bring it up" to " you'll definitely find something" but I would like to hear it from professionals / owners. 

Any advice anyone could provide about how to navigate this situation, and what are some best practices, even personal stances on the matter would be very much appreciated. 

Thank you!

@John Smith two thing would concern my accepting you as a tenant. 1, lack of verifiable rental history and 2, the felony. If the felony is for speeding etc, pubic intoxication etc that's forgivable. Violence, theft, robbery etc that's a different story. Either way you will get rejections. 

What about your highlights? You have a degree, you are sober; what about your job and professional record. I'd look at those if I were you, and get some references; job, bank, minister, professor, accountant etc. That would help but you then need to present them to someone who will take the time to read and weigh the evidence. It is a bit of a tough spot you are in; I wish you all the best!

The incident happened 15 years ago. Great, but when did you get released from prison? Big difference between the incident happened 15 years ago and I got out last week vs. I got out 15 years ago.

What was the crime? If it was a sexual incident, murder, or certain violent crimes then I'm probably never renting to you. 

Your lack or rental history is problematic, but not a deal killer. A solid job and big security deposit can overcome this. Would some of that "excellent family support" be willing to cosign the lease? I've done leases where after a year or two I will drop the cosigner if everything has been good during the initial term.

I wouldn't hide the felony. In most places it will pop up on the background check. Me running the background check and seeing the felony will get you denied as I don't want to wonder what else you failed to tell me about. You being upfront and saying: When you do the background check you're going to find out that 15 years ago I had a felony. It was due to drugs. I turned my life around and have been a model citizen for 14 years. I have a great job making $X and you won't have any issues with me. This will get me to at least consider your application.

@John Smith

I think it’s great you have turned your life around.  Everyone deserves a second chance.  I would be upfront about it.  You don’t have to go into detail unless of course your asked.  You’re probably going to need a co-signer.  Hopefully a parent will co-sign for you.  A drug arrest is one thing that happened years ago.  I have rented to a felon, been out of jail about  12 years is married and has two children.  Turned his life around.  I required two months security deposit.  

I appreciate the feedback. @Greg M. , yes family would certainly be willing to co-sign, and overall, any financial arrangement to hedge perceived risk is not a problem. 

All of the above feedback was super helpful. thanks for taking time out.