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Higbee & Associates, a national law firm

How to Rent an Apartment With a Criminal Record

People with criminal records are put in a very difficult position in society. When it comes to apartment renting, job hunting, and dating, virtually everything takes on an entirely different tone when it comes up that you have a criminal record that you’re trying to work past. It’s something you may be struggling with for years or, potentially, your entire life.

You can’t change your past, but you may be able to erase your criminal records through record expungement or record sealing so that landlords can't see them. If you are ineligible to legally clear your record there are still some things that you can do to secure an apartment rental.

Renting an Apartment with a Criminal Record

What to do when renting with a criminal record

In this article we will cover how to find out if you are eligible to erase your criminal record and what to do when trying to rent an apartment if you are ineligible to erase your record. The quickest and easiest way to find out if your record is eligible to be cleared is to take this free online eligibility test.

A good place to start when going about the apartment hunting process is to know what a landlord can ask you.

What Can a Landlord Ask?

One thing that tends to hurt people's chances of being approved for renting during the apartment searching process is not knowing what information a landlord is and is not entitled to. The landlord is someone you want to impress, so your instinct will likely to be answer everything possible. But you don’t have to.

What a landlord can ask you during the rental application process

What questions can a landlord ask during the application process?

The first thing to know is that a landlord’s set of questions must be uniform. What they ask one potential tenant, they must ask all. Anything else is profiling. A landlord can legally ask you the following:

The questions are designed to give them an idea of your quality as a tenant and your ability to pay monthly rent. Anything outside this scope is dubiously legal, depending on your state (for example, discrimination based on the nature of your relationship with a potential roommate). Landlords are trying to protect their property, assets, and current tenants. Your best move is to be as honest as possible. Be open and candid with your potential landlord. If you’re trying to hide something, it makes you suspicious and a potential liability.

Renting an Apartment With a Criminal Record

The best option is to seek out a record expungement or record sealing. Expungement is the legal process where a court hides your criminal record. This doesn’t make it completely disappear since certain government agencies will be granted access to the records., but a landlord would not be able to access your record once it is expunged. Whether or not you can have them expunged depends on several factors including: the nature of your crime, the policies of the jurisdiction your records belong to, the time lapsed since your conviction, and your overall criminal history.

However, some states don’t allow expungement at all. You can also have your records sealed, which means they still exist but are not available to the public. This does not remove them from your record, however, and will count as a previous offense. So, let’s say, for one reason or another, expungement is not an option. What can you do? Your ability to rent is not over. You have some options but it will take some work on your end.


The best thing you can do for yourself is expunge your records when attempting to rent an apartment, if you are eligible. If you are not fortunate enough to have a case that is eligible for expungement then follow the advice laid out in this article. Make sure to do what you can to make yourself as attractive a tenant as possible in every other aspect of your life.

If you would like to find out if your criminal record is eligible to be expunged or sealed, the quickest and easiest way is to take this free online eligibility test or call (877) 573-7273 for a free assessment.

For more information on record clearing and record expungement, visit our legal articles section.

5 I am overwhelmed with joy that I found this service, I thought that I was going to live with the albatross for the rest of my life. They made this process as easy as it possibly could be and for an incredibly affordable rate. I could not be happier.
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