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Rental Report: Renting While Self-Employed

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Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

A reader recently asked us for advice on renting for freelancers or self-employed applicants. This renter group represents quite a few folks in the D.C. Metro area. And while it may be a bit trickier when initially approaching landlords, with a little preparation, you should be able to rent a perfect place.

Ability to pay is certainly the top concern for a landlord looking to rent out their property. As a freelancer, you have to be able to prove that you still have a steady stream of income or enough savings to cover your rent in the event work slows down.

When you start your rental search, be ready to show proof of income in the form of tax returns. Good credit and rental history are important in this instance as well. Ask your current or past landlord for a reference to show you kept their property in good condition and you paid your rent on time.

Are you able to offer a larger security deposit? In Virginia, the landlord can request up to two months’ rent as a deposit. That may be enough to put a new landlord at ease if your credit and rental history are good, but maybe your income isn’t regular.

Fair Housing doesn’t cover employment, so unfortunately, landlords can deny you. Private landlords may be more likely to work with you. An agent may know of specific landlords that are more friendly to non-traditional renters, so it might be helpful to contact an agent.

Right now, the rental market is shifting in favor of the renter, so you may have more negotiating power now than you have in the past.

Other options are to get someone to co-sign for the apartment. Or you could try a roommate if none of the other tips work in your favor.

If you are in between jobs or you have less than perfect credit, check out our other two articles with recommendations for those situations.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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