How to Rent an Apartment With a Felony on Your Record (Do This First)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Criminal Records | April 29, 2024

A man with his hands on his hips demonstrates how to rent an apartment with a felony on your record by holding keys and a suitcase and looking at criminal records online that passed a tenant background check and found felony approved apartments near me.

Passing a background check with a criminal record can be difficult and plenty of individuals will want to know how to rent an apartment with a felony on your record.

Before going any further, do this first: run a background check on yourself.

This is by far the best way to prepare because it will illuminate exactly what kind of information the landlord will be able to see.Some crimes may be too old to show up.

That way, applicants can can plan responses to any possible questions or concerns, or go ahead and take steps to fix their background check before applying.

How To Rent an Apartment With a Felony on Your Record

Not knowing how to rent an apartment with a felony on your record is an extremely common problem. These days it is easier than ever to run a background check on someone so virtually every landlord will do so to minimize the potential risk a new tenant brings.

In order to pass a tenant background check, individuals should first familiarize themselves with the process, what kind of things are checked and why in order to better understand their chances of passing and what to expect from the process.

Screenshot of Federal Trade Commission website page about business guidance resources with yellow arrows pointing to when can a tenant background screening company can be a consumer reporting agency.

The Federal Trade Commission outlines what tenant screening companies can check and how they can use the public records they obtain.

As mentioned, almost every landlord will perform a background check on any potential tenants. This is to ensure the individual is in good financial standing and isn’t someone with a history of missing rent payments, as well as to ensure the individual does not have a history of non-financial issues with the landlord such as violating lease agreements, damaging property, etc. Finally, background checks are performed to ensure the individual does not pose a risk to the other tenants due to their criminal history.

Most tenant credit and background checks are performed by third-party companies that the landlord hires. These companies usually perform their checks using public databases such as court and police records to find much of the information. Credit checks are also standard practice for an apartment and are likely even more common than a criminal history check.

The criminal history check is fairly simple and will include criminal history searches at the local, state, federal, and national levels. Basically, this means that any criminal charges the individual has faced anywhere in the country will appear on the background check. What information will raise a red flag will depend on the landlord. However, the following crimes are generally seen as red flags to a landlord:

  • Arson
  • Violent crimes
  • Crimes against children
  • Sex crimes
  • Domestic violence

Many landlords will be able to overlook some of the above crimes in certain situations and there are plenty of other crimes that certain landlords will be on the lookout for. Generally, individuals with non-violent and low-level misdemeanors will not need to worry too much about their criminal histories’ impact on their rental application. Those with felonies will need to have an honest explanation ready, however low-level felonies will usually not be a major issue.

Besides the criminal history check, tenant background checks will also perform a more generalized public records check on the individual. While most people are familiar with the background checks that employers run on applicants, these are usually just criminal history checks performed by examining documents from criminal court databases. However, tenant background checks will also check civil court documents for any information.

The main reason that civil court documents are also checked is that this is where documentation regarding any landlord-related issues will be kept. If the rental applicant was sued for damages or was evicted from their last apartment, this information will be held by the civil courts instead of criminal courts.

Finally, the credit check will examine the individual’s financial standing, such as if they have ever been evicted or have a credit score that indicates that they are at risk of not making their rent payments on time.

Are There Any Apartments That Accept Felons?

A common question individuals have while apartment hunting is: Are there any apartments that accept felons? There are plenty of apartments that will accept individuals with a criminal history. There are no laws1 that prohibit landlords from accepting individuals with criminal records, instead not allowing individuals with felony records will be the policy of the landlord.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau screenshot with a yellow arrow pointing to what is a tenant screening report consist of

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also explains what’s included in a tenant background check screening, which also includes the a risk assessment score on the applicant, factored from the data.

However, these days many apartments are owned by large leasing companies whose policies around felons will be fairly strict. This will mean that individuals with a criminal record may not be eligible to rent from these places, and no exceptions will be made.

As far as how to rent an apartment with a felony on your record is concerned, individuals should try to find rentals that are owned by private landlords, rather than large leasing companies. This will give individuals a greater chance to speak directly with the owner who will be able to make exceptions to any policies against renting to felons.

How To Find Felony-Approved Apartments Near Me

Many individuals will want to know how to find felony-approved apartments near me. There are several websites that offer this service and will aggregate apartments in a local area that are friendly towards felons. Besides this option, individuals can also call individual rental properties and ask about their policy regarding renting to felons, this can also serve as the first opportunity to try to convince them to make an exception if they do have a policy against it.

As mentioned, individuals with felonies on their records will likely have better luck with private landlords rather than large leasing companies.

What Can Disqualify You From Renting an Apartment?

Just like employers performing background checks on applicants, every landlord will likely have their own set of red flags that they are on the lookout for. However, what can disqualify you from renting an apartment will usually include the following.

  • Poor financial standing
  • History of eviction
  • History of property damage
  • History of missed payments
  • Violent felony convictions
  • Sexual felony convictions
  • Appearing on a sex offender registry

All of the finance-related red flags are self-explanatory, a landlord will not want to rent to a tenant if they don’t think the tenant will be making their payments on time. As far as the individual’s criminal history is concerned, landlords will be looking to ensure the individual does not pose a risk to other tenants. For example, if the individual appears on a sex offender registry, this can be a major red flag for apartment complexes that have lots of children.

What Does a Background Check Show for Rental?

When it comes to what does a rental background check report include, a typical tenant background check will include the following information:

  • Local Criminal history (arrests, charges, and convictions)
  • State Criminal history (arrests, charges, and convictions)
  • National Criminal history (arrests, charges, and convictions)
  • Federal Criminal history (arrests, charges, and convictions)
  • Credit Score
  • Credit History (Evictions, delinquent payments, debt, etc.)
  • Sex Offender Registry Information
  • Evictions
  • Civil Lawsuits that name the applicant as the defendant.

How To Perform a Rental Background Check on Myself

Many individuals will want to know how to know where can they get a rental background check on themselves without paying. Knowing how to do so is extremely useful for several different reasons.

The first is knowing what to expect when an official background check is performed. Oftentimes, landlords will be able to overlook certain red flags if the applicant is able to offer an honest explanation of the situation. By performing a background check on yourself, it is far easier to know the exact information they will see and prepare a response ahead of time.

Screenshot of US Department of HUD website page with yellow arrow pointing to tenants rights per state

Tenants rights laws by state are outlined on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

Performing a background check on yourself also allows individuals to fix any mistakes that may appear on their checks. Mistakes are unfortunately somewhat common and can severely slow down the rental process as individuals will need to file an appeal to fix the mistakes.

There are a few different ways to run a background check on yourself. The easiest and cheapest is to use the search bar at the top of this page to perform free public records search on yourself. Individuals can also find access to a background check trial for 7 days without charge or pay a fee to have a check performed.

Finally, individuals who want the most thorough option possible run a federal background check on themselves using the FBI’s identity history summary check.2

How Long Does a Credit and Background Check Take for an Apartment?

The time constraints of background checks seem to vary significantly, leaving many individuals confused and wondering: How long does a credit and background check take for an apartment?

Most background checks will be completed in just a matter of days. Since the checks are usually name-based checks they only need to be run through a few different online databases. It is possible there will be other delays such as the landlord making the decision based on the findings, but the majority will take less than two weeks.

How Long Does It Take To Get Approved for an Apartment?

Some individuals excited about signing their new lease and moving in will want to know how long does it take to get approved for an apartment?

The background and credit check for apartment3 will likely take a little less than a week to complete. This will usually be the longest stage of the process. Beyond this, the landlord will need to make the final decision as well as verify things like proof of income.

Screenshot of City of Detroit website page about civil rights, inclusion and opportunity with yellow arrow pointing to the notice to tenants.

Every state and city has its own laws about tenants rights and laws that dictate the behavior of landlords, so it’s important to check local provisions first.

All told, the process will usually take less than two weeks and most often is closer to one week.

Failed Background Check for Apartment

Ending up with a failed background check for an apartment can be a frustrating experience but there are a few options individuals will have going forward. The most important thing to do is to figure out why the background check failed.

This is especially important to ensure the failure was not the result of a mistake. If the failure was due to the individual’s criminal history, they should look to landlords with more relaxed policies regarding criminal histories. If the failure was due to the credit history check, individuals can try finding a cosigner or offer to pay for at least some of the rent upfront.

How To Pass a Background Check for an Apartment

Some individuals will want to know if there are any tricks when it comes to acing a background check when seeking an apartment lease. Besides performing a check on yourself beforehand to make sure there are no mistakes, individuals should be honest and upfront with the landlord regarding any criminal history in order to increase their chances.

Tenant Background Check

Some individuals are surprised to find out that landlords have a specific kind of background check that is different from the background checks performed by employers on applicants. There are only a few small differences between a tenant background check and a pre-employment background check.

Screenshot of Minneapolis website page about renter protection owner guide with yellow arrows pointing to rental history and income.

A person’s rental history and income play a role in the type of tenant ranking score they obtain.

The two most notable differences are the credit check and the check of civil court records. Most employers are not concerned with civil court records and will simply not bother to check records that are not related to criminal records. Although some jobs will require credit checks, this will only be performed on applicants for jobs with high salaries or access to large amounts of money such as jobs in the finance industry.

Tenant Background Check With Social Security Number

A tenant screening utilizing Social Security number verification is fairly standard. Unlike civil lawsuits and criminal records, credit information is not considered public. This means that an approved credit agency will need to perform this check which will require the individual’s social security number as well as their consent.

Can You Rent an Apartment While on Probation? How To Rent an Apartment With a Felony on Your Record

When it comes to whether can you rent an apartment while on probation, the same general issues are applicable. The main concern will be what crime led to the individual being on probation. Basically, the reason for probation is the main concern, not the fact that the person is on probation at all.

How Long Does a Background Check Take for an Apartment?

Even though you want to speed things up, there are a few factors you should keep in mind, like what is the standard timeframe for conducting a background check for an apartment. Apartment background checks will vary in length between a few days and two weeks. Since most of the checks are performed electronically, the total time is usually just a few days unless there is some kind of issue that causes a delay.

Most apartment rentals will perform criminal background checks to prevent having a tenant that poses a risk to the safety of other tenants on the property.

Is There a Criminal Background Check for Apartment Rental?

Background checks are confusing and there is usually a lot to be lost or gained from their outcome. Knowing how to rent an apartment with a felony on your record is extremely important for anyone apartment hunting with a criminal record.

Performing a background check on yourself as well as a credit check will be the best thing that individuals can do to increase their chances of passing a background check. Although there is a lot to consider when it comes to how to rent an apartment with a felony on your record, the answer is quite simple: be prepared.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Rent an Apartment With a Felony On Your Record

Do No Criminal Background Check Apartments Exist?

Almost all apartments will perform criminal background checks these days. There are some exceptions, such as private landlords that simply don’t bother to perform checks because they are unnecessary for the situation.

Are There Any No Background Check Apartments?

No background check apartments do exist. To find these, individuals should focus on private landlords rather than rental properties owned by large companies.

Is There a List of Felon Friendly Apartments?

There is no official list of felon friendly apartments. However, there are a few websites that rely on user-submitted data to aggregate apartments that are friendly toward individuals with felony records.

How To Find Apartments That Don’t Do Background Checks?

There isn’t a very reliable way to find apartments that forego background checks for tenants. There are websites available that help aggregate apartments friendly towards individuals with criminal records. However, contacting rental properties directly and inquiring is likely the most reliable option.

No Background Check Houses for Rent?

Houses are somewhat less likely to perform background checks. Not only are they more often privately owned, but there is also less of a reason for a criminal history check since the individual will not be in close proximity with other renters the way they would be at an apartment.

What Are HUD Felony Friendly Rentals?

HUD refers to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is an agency in charge of helping develop affordable housing. Some of this housing is available to individuals with felony records.

What Does a Rental Background Check Consist Of?

Rental background checks consist of credit history checks, criminal history checks, and a public records search focusing on civil lawsuits.

What Charges Can Stop You From Getting an Apartment?

Charges relating to violent crimes, sex crimes, or crimes against children are the most common charges that will stop someone from getting an apartment.


1U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2017, September 20). Tenant Rights. HUD. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from <>

2Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2016, May 3). Identity History Summary Checks (Rap Sheets). FBI. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from <>

3Federal Trade Commission. (2021, May 23). Free Credit Reports. FTC. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from <>

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