Apartment Living BlogApartment Hunting › How to Rent Without a Social Security Number

Finding an apartment to rent can be difficult, especially if you are looking to sign a lease without a social security number.

With the rise of identity theft in recent years, it’s no wonder a lot of renters feel iffy about disclosing their SSN to people they barely know. Furthermore, some renters don’t have one at all. In either case, apartment hunting without giving out a Social Security number can add a layer of unwanted stress to an already stressful process.

Don’t worry —it’s not impossible. Keep in mind, some parts of the U.S. are more likely to be lenient than others when it comes to things like this. With that said, here’s how to move things along more smoothly:

Contact Potential Landlords

When it comes to renting without a Social Security number, a lot depends on the policies of individual landlords and rental companies. In some specific states, landlords are restricted from requiring a SSN in order to lease to you, but outside of those places, it’s likely to be a mixed bag. Make some calls to the people you’re considering renting from and find out what their requirements are. If they need a SSN, you can narrow down your choices by scratching them off your list. If they don’t, find out what they do need from you and proceed with your application!

Provide Other Documents

Although not all landlords will need you to have a Social Security number, pretty much all of them will require some sort of legal documentation, so be sure to have that ready before you start apartment hunting. In most cases, if you are not an American resident or citizen, a green card or visa will suffice. A lot of places will even have non-resident application forms ready to go, but if you’re using a student or work visa, be prepared to give a transcript from your school or a letter from your employer as well. You might also be asked to show that you have money in an American bank account, so your landlord can verify that you won’t stiff them down the road.

Be Prepared to Pay a Little (Or a Lot) More

It’s unfortunate but true: if a landlord is feeling unsure about you, they’re likely to charge you a larger deposit or ask you to shell out the first few months’ rent up front. And sadly, in a lot of cases, they will take not disclosing a SSN as reason to feel unsure. Don’t despair —if you have a good payment history, a steady income, and maybe a couple strong references, these things can help dissuade them from nickel-and-dime-ing you too much. This especially counts for individual lease apartments, so figure out the pros and cons before deciding.

Cut Out the Middleman

Pretty much every landlord will want to run your credit history and a criminal background check before they approve your application. Many of them go through third party screening services that use a Social Security number in order to do this. But what a lot of people don’t know is that the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) don’t actually require one. When you contact your landlord, offer to pay for them to run your credit history and background check directly —most of them will charge an application fee for this anyway— rather than using a third party service. The downside is that a credit check with no SSN will often show no credit history at all, but it can still be a good strategy for proving your trustworthiness to a potential lessor.

Be Honest About Your Situation

If you’re undocumented, then address that directly when you contact potential landlords. They may be difficult to find in a lot of places, but there are some who will rent to you regardless. In most cases, you will be asked for a valid ID from your home country and proof of income. Some landlords will also require that you co-sign with someone who is a U.S. citizen, but it is doable. Trust us: being up front with your potential landlord about your immigrant status will be a lot less uncomfortable than them finding this out after the application process is well underway.

Finding the right apartment for you can be headache-inducing enough without the extra worries of doing so without giving out a Social Security number. But with some extra time and patience, you can find a place and landlord that are a good fit for you without giving out more information than you want or are able to. Once you’ve found a place, make sure to check these things out before signing the lease. Happy Hunting!

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Amber is the Director of Content Marketing for ForRent.com and has been with the company since April 2007. In her role, Amber strategizes, executes and optimizes a content and social media plans across multiple channels and platforms. This includes blogs, social networks, video sharing sites, and other conversational media. She spends a great deal of time building relationships with consumers, social media influencers, and bloggers to generate awareness of the ForRent.com brands. In her free time, Amber loves running, #hashtags, and DIY projects.

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