Freelancers: How to rent apartments when you are self employed

The following post is from Marissa over at Thirty Six Months. She writes about to investing, saving money and paying off her student loans.

Freelancing seems to be the new “it” career these days. With the job market being the way it is, freelancing is looking like a fantastic option. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? It allows you to work from home, or from a coffee shop, and make your own hours and be your own boss. There are many perks, just as there a quite a few downsides to it. Being a freelancer is a double edged sword but some would argue that the perks outweigh the drawbacks.

The perks include:

  • Working from any location and sometimes only needing your computer.This is better known as “location independent”.
  • Being your own boss. Being a freelancer allows you to pick and choose your own clients.
  • Not having to deal with office politics. The worst part of any job is the politics and the drama that comes with it. Freelancers avoid most of that.

Some of the downsides:

  • Your income is sometimes inconsistent.
  • You have to source your own clients.
  • It gets lonely to work by yourself everyday.
  • And of one the biggest issues when working as a freelancer is being able to rent.

Most landlords look for employment records and need income statements etc. So what do you do if you work for yourself and need to move and find a place on your own?

I may have mentioned that my father is in the Commercial Real Estate business, and while he has very few residential units, the concepts are the same for both. At the end of the day, landlords want to make sure that they have the best tenant in their units. These apartments for rent are actually one of the best places anybody could live right now, and after helping two friends look for places over the last few months, I have learned a few things.

Tips for freelancers:

  • The rules in larger buildings/ management companies are more rigid, and most times they follow them very closely. So your best bet is to find smaller buildings or houses.
  • Have bank statements for six months handy. Make sure you black out your bank account numbers.
  • Tax returns for the last 3 years help your case.
  • If you are a letter from the publisher (or a copy of the contract if you have it).
  • Copies of contracts from long-term clients.
  • Written references from previous landlords. This goes a long way, although most of them don’t end up calling.

There are many different ways to go apartment hunting. Some people do it all themselves, while others enlist Real Estate agents. If you do go down that route, make sure you let the agent know everything about you living and work situation. They are wonderful allies, but only if they have an idea of what the circumstances.

And finally, its a tough market out there. The competition is larger cities like Toronto, New York etc is fierce. Make sure you put your best foot forward and dress appropriately when meeting landlords. Nothing turns a future landlord off faster than seeing someone dress like a slob with without steady income. Remember, sell yourself as the best possible tenant, make the landlord want to have you in their apartment. This way negotiation is always a possibility. Just because you are a freelancer doesn’t mean that you are not paying rent or are any less worthy. So while the landlord is interviewing you, you should do your research about the landlord. The best type of landlord or management team is the one who is emotionally connected to their property. This will ensure that any repairs that need to be done are done right and on time.