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Most apartment landlords require a security deposit plus at least the first month of rent upfront to protect the property from any damage beyond normal wear and tear, and to guard against missed payments at the end of the lease term.
Then, pet lovers often need to advance even more. How can you afford to move into your new place when you have little money in the bank?
Personal loans provide fast access for qualified applicants, while student loans help college attendees with off-campus housing. Government assistance programs might help the lowest-income families, while new alternatives are emerging that do away with the requirement altogether.
Apartment Security Deposit Loans
Security deposit loans can help tenants quickly raise the cash needed to satisfy their apartment lease terms, allowing them to move in right away. Private lenders can make fast decisions when the borrower presents solid qualifications: a good credit score, stable employment, and affordable monthly payment.
College students and people with bad credit have other avenues to explore.
Request a personal loan (Affiliate Link) to get quick cash to fund the security deposit and first month of rent if needed to move in right away. Have a plan in place to repay the lender to avoid more significant problems in the future.
- Make monthly payments plus the rent obligation
- Use a security deposit refund from the previous landlord
Keep the size of your request small to get the approval more rapidly. In other words, avoid tacking on the first month of rent if you can, so that the lender does not have to take extra time verifying income and employment.
Speed up the approval process by having this information at your side when completing the online request form.
- Driver’s license number
- Employer name, address, and contact data
- Bank account and routing number
Tenants with a bad credit history may need to recruit a co-signer if they want a loan to help them move into an apartment. Landlords often require a much more money upfront from people with adverse history on their consumer report – the security deposit plus the first and last lease payment at a minimum.
Unfortunately, low credit scores and big loans go together like fish and bicycles. Therefore, a co-signer could help tenants with bad credit qualify two ways.
- Sign as a guarantor on the apartment lease which could diminish the upfront cash requirements and loan size
- Act as guarantor on the personal loan which could lower origination fees, interest rate, and boost approval odds
Young adults attending college can use student loans to fund security deposits for off-campus apartment rentals, plus all of their monthly payments – not just the first and or last. Department of Education guidelines set borrowing limits to cover the full cost of yearly attendance, which includes living expenses.
However, you may have to jump through extra hoops depending on the amounts that you need to finance to pay for tuition, books, lab fees, and then rental expenses.
- Yearly federal student loan borrowing limits range from $5,500 for a dependent freshman to $12,500 for an independent senior
- Private student loans have higher maximums but often require a co-signer from a parent or other established adult
Move Now Pay Later
Many property managers promote move now pay later deals to attract new tenants. Each month that an apartment unit remains vacant represents lost revenue to the owner or investor.
Therefore, many landlords waive the first month of rent (and sometimes the second and third) to get people to sign the lease and move into the unit. Of course, they still want a security deposit in escrow to protect against damages and missed payments at the end of the term.
You often see promotions like these in overbuilt markets, where rental housing supplies exceed demand. Use the deal to finance your security deposit. However, do not expect the same terms at lease renewal.
Security Deposit Assistance Programs
Prospective tenants seeking to rent a new apartment will find that security deposit assistance programs are very scarce. The help that does exist goes exclusively to low-income families and is hard to find as federal money trickles down to a variety of local governments, housing agencies, mental health authorities, and non-profits.
Fortunately, a current trend makes it possible to rent an apartment using an alternative approach that is more widely available and easier to find.
Apartments without Deposits
Looking for apartments without security deposit requirements is a viable option for people who do not have the extra upfront cash. However, it is unlikely that the landlords are offering assistance because they have generous hearts. They still need to protect their property from damage and skipped payments.
Instead, many property managers recently began offering security deposit alternatives that make it easier for tenants to afford to move in. Third-party companies offer other courses of action that minimize the need for cash in advance while protecting landlord interests at the same time.
- Surety bonds reduce the amounts required in advance by up to 83%, but you relinquish your refund – if any (Rhino)
- Pay per damage arrangements allow landlords to draft money from your checking account only if needed (Obligo)
- Lease insurance premiums paid by the property owner covers losses from damage, eviction costs, and missed payments (LeaseLock)
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manages the Section 8 program, which provides apartment rental assistance in the form of housing vouchers. The voucher offers a 70% subsidy of the local market rate, or actual lease payment, whichever is less for low-income families.
Section 8 does not pay for the security deposit. However, a closely related HUD program, Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA), does filter money to state-level “Participating Jurisdictions” that often help with security and utility deposits for the neediest families. 
Therefore, search for TBRA in your local area.
Very few, if any, charities provide help with rental security deposits for low-income families. The limited resources that non-profit organizations obtain from grants and donations, typically go towards related missions that address homelessness.
Do not place too much faith in what other online articles suggest as resources. Charities usually have far more needs to fill than their scare resources can support. For example, their missions typically focus on the needs of recently evicted tenants by providing transitional housing rather than doling out cash for new renters.
- Rapid rehousing beds
- Homeless shelters
Single mothers seeking rental deposit assistance should follow the same roadmap as any other low-income family. Solo parents have fewer resources because their child-care duties make it challenging to thrive in the workplace and earn a livable wage.
Therefore, single mothers can turn to the same programs noted above, along with others that lower their overall cost of living and raising children by themselves.
- Security deposit alternatives to reduce upfront costs
- Section 8 to reduce the amount they pay each month
- Local TBRA participating jurisdictions for help with deposits
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- The Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or Food Stamps)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)