Renting Apartments with Low Income [Or No Income At All]

If everyone had an annual salary of $80,000 and more, there would be no need for this article. However, we live in a different kinda reality where an average American earns only about $44,148 per year or $859 per week as stated in the recent report of the US Department of Labor. Given such an income and the ever-growing prices for long-term rent, it should come as no surprise that low-income citizens spend nearly half of their salary on housing. While this statistic is worrisome in its own right, turns out it is only half the problem. What is really alarming is that the vast majority of low-income Americans are having hard times qualifying for rent.

Put Yourself in a Landlord’s Shoes

At first glance, it might seem that a below-the-average income should not be a burden on someone’s efforts to secure a place to live (assuming this person has enough money to cover rental expenses). After all, we all have the right to shelter. However, if you try to look at this question from a landlord’s perspective, you’ll surely see why proof of income is such a big concern for the majority of them.

In nearly all cases, landlords are somewhat dependent on the money they receive from renting out. It’s just another form of business, and they want to be sure they’ll get their paycheck on the 1st of a month. So here is the logic most landlords follow: the higher a tenant’s income is, the more likely this person is to pay rent in full and on time. In light of this, it becomes rather evident why rental agreements usually revolve around a tenant’s ‘proof of income’ and ‘credit history.

But What If Your Current Income Level is Just Not Good Enough?

With a few exceptions, a landlord accepts a rental application if a prospect’s gross salary is at least three times the monthly rent. In the real estate world, this principle is sometimes referred to as the ‘3x the monthly rent’ rule. If you don’t meet this condition, there are two approaches you may choose to follow:

  • Search houses for rent without proof of income. Some landlords might not require proof of income (it doesn’t happen often). This might be the easiest solution out there, but it will limit your choices significantly.
  • Make your rental application impossible to reject. They say what lacks in X, makes up in Y. Compose an application that will showcase your best qualities to a landlord and anticipate their possible objections.

The first approach is undeniably easier. However, as experience confirms times and times again, those who choose the second one are more likely to finish the race as champions. So waste no more time and let’s find out how to rent without proof of income.

Below you will find five tried-and-true ways to work around strict qualifications for a rental agreement:

Take Advantage of Your Good Credit

Your current income is surely important, but equally important is how good you are at managing your finances. Your credit history is the best way to make your landlord see what a trustworthy and serious person you actually are. More often than not, landlords take a good look at a prospect’s credit rating. So if you boast a good credit score, it can sometimes make up for a lack of income. Do you remember there are tips to improve your credit score relatively fast?

Find Yourself a Co-Signer

If you have no choice but opt for renting without income, finding a co-signer (aka lease guarantor) is the direction you should be thinking. If you’ve ever had a co-signer for a car loan or a mortgage, then you’re likely to know how it works. A lease guarantor signs on in order to provide more security for a landlord. This approach is especially popular among student renters and recent college grads and is generally safe. However, keep in mind that your lease guarantor will be responsible for your unpaid rent.

Gude on apartment renting with low income

Get a Statement from Your Bank

Renting without income might be not a problem if you have large amounts of savings and can provide a bank statement as proof. This might be a good approach to follow if you find yourself in between jobs at the moment.

Consider Offering a Higher Security Deposit

If for some reason you cannot provide a rental proof of income, a smart approach would be making a custom offer to a landlord. To make your application attractive to a landlord, you may offer a slightly higher security deposit. If you need to secure your tenant’s qualification for a couple of months only (before you find yourself a new job), paying more in security deposit might be your saving grace.

Take Advantage of Networking

An efficient but commonly overlooked approach is to find a landlord among the people you know. They say anyone is only 5 handshakes away from the president. If this holds true, you’d need even fewer handshakes to find a landlord among your friends or your friends’ friends. Take advantage of this fact and you won’t be on a losing side. If it’s not your friend, but a friend of your friend who rents out, ask the first to vouch for you. Personal recommendations work wonders, they really do.

Search for Already-Occupied Shares

If you agree to live in a shared rental, search for renters looking for a roommate. The thing is that if you’re moving in mid-lease, you are basically taking over another person’s spot. This means that you’re likely to make a deal directly with a current resident of a rental. More often than not, tenants in search of roommates are looking for a good person, not for someone with a certain annual income. However, make sure to ask your prospective roommates if subletting is permitted by their lease.

For the Finals

Qualifying for rent with low income is just as hard as renting with low credit score. However, armed with all the information from this article, your chances to secure a place to live are definitely higher. So take the most out of the advice you’ve just get, and may a lack of income never stand between you and a perfect rental.


  1. Neda Hall says:

    I have enough for rent/deposit but don’t have 3/1 ratio (income to rent) and my credit score is not the best.
    I need help

  2. John Piazza says:

    I WISH I made $40,000 a year… I work 40 hours a week at job I’ve been at for 9 years and I only make half that. It’s literally impossible for me to find an apartment since they all require you make 3 times the rent and I barely make double.

  3. Checker Privs says:

    “average American earns only about $44,148 per year”
    Excuse me… My family would live very comfortably if my spouse and I made that much combined. 2 people together working at a supermarket or a fast food place don’t make that much.

  4. Kia chocobliss says:

    Thanks as this is exactly my struggl about to move have rents an security a job lined up but can take a month before I’m actually working so great advice to offer a month or maybe two monthe rents in advance along with rent an security to make this situation more attractive to the landlord as all they need to know is that they will be getting paid

    • Denise M Cooke says:

      i just lost my job in july 2020 unemployment . i have no received my first check yet . even with the 275 a week ive been approved for . i cant afford rent let alone first and last rent . im going to be homless soon and i dont no what to do.

  5. Great ideas and brilliant advises. Thanks for this!

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