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Housing Rights for People with a Criminal Record

Starting a new life can be extremely hard for people with a criminal record. Ex-convicts have a hard time finding a new place to live, a new job and they feel like they’ve been rejected by society. Just because you made a mistake in the past, it does not mean that you have no rights when it comes to housing.

Here we are going to tell you more about the ways you can find a new place, and we are going to give you some tips on how you can apply. The process may take some time, and you need to have all the proper documentation, but it is all worth it when you have a roof above your head and a chance for a new beginning.

Short-term renting

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In case you want to rent a place soon after your release, you should know that there are several available options. If you qualify for some of the halfway programs, you will get a place from the state where you can temporarily stay until you find something permanent. For this, and for all the other options in this list, you would have to be in constant communication with your parole officer, or the social worker.

Another option that many people disregard is staying with your family or friends. Even though this would only be temporary, and even if you don’t have a lease document, you will still be considered as a tenant at will. You will have the rights and the responsibilities a regular tenant has, and you would have about one month to move out unless you sign a legal document.

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In case you have some money on the side, you can think about getting a hotel or a motel room. This is probably the most expensive option for short term renting, but if you have no other choice, you could stay there until you find something better. You have to check with your parole officer if this is allowed in your state because some states don’t approve of people who were just released to get a hostel room. If you can do it, you have to keep all the documentation that you’ve paid for your stay.

Last but not least, subletting is perfect for people who were just released. You will have a lease and all the rights that a tenant has, but you wouldn’t have to stay at that place for a long time. Check to see if the original tenant has the right to sublet their place, and look for all the proper documents. There are a lot of places you can find rooms that are being sublet, and you can also look at forums, online groups, and even Craigslist.

Long-term renting

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Just like the short-term options, you have a lot of different options if you want to rent a place for a longer period of time. Let’s first talk about the places that you can find, and later on, we’ll cover all the things you have to do in order to get a place without any issues.

When you rent from private landlords, it may be easier for you to get a place. There are many people who are helping ex-convicts get back into society and they focus only on renting to people with a criminal record. A place like this may not be a luxurious one, but they are definitely affordable and you won’t have any issues with the landlord. No matter the place you choose, when you sit down one on one with the landlord, you can talk to them, explain your situation, and they will see you as a person, not as a record. As long as you let them know on time and as long as you are fully honest with them, there should not be any issues.

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Housing programs are another great way to find a permanent stay, but you should be really careful about the process. Some places don’t allow people with a record to stay on their premises, and they may decline you just because of that. You can request an appeal and you can use the law to get an affordable place with ease.

Last but not least, you can rent from large management companies, but you should know that some of them have policies and don’t rent to ex-convicts. However, this depends on the type of crime you committed. For example, people who were involved with drugs, or that have been charged with a violent crime cannot rent a place from the large companies. On the other hand, if your crime was smaller or if you only have an arrest record, you should not have a lot of issues getting a place. When you apply for the place, you will need to gather all the needed documentation and submit a letter with that. RecordPurge suggests that a criminal record can affect your housing options and that if possible, you should try and get your record cleaned before you decide to go look for a permanent residence.

How to apply

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No matter if you want to rent a place for only a few weeks, or you want to get a home where you would be able to stay for years to come, you need to have the proper documentation.

You should always include your first, middle, and last name in the application, so you don’t get confused with another person. You should be open with your potential landlord and tell them upfront about your criminal record, why were you convicted, how much time you spent in jail, and if you have a parole officer, you have to mention that as well.

There are ways for your landlord to check if you were convicted, and if you don’t disclose this information on time, you may be declined. You should also learn how to write the application letter, and if needed, contact a professional, or ask your parole officer to help you out with the process. Put personal information about you, including the hobbies you have, interests, and what you like to do in your free time. This will make the landlords see you as a person, and not as someone who was convicted.

In most states, you cannot be denied the right to rent just because you have a criminal record, but as you already know, this happens more often than not. You have to be patient and you should remember that things are going to get better. Focus on finding a place for now, and later on, when you find a good job, you can look for a better place to stay. In case you want to do everything you can to put that part of your life behind you, you can try and get your record erased.

About Stefania Trtica