Can You Rent an Apartment if You’re Not a U.S. Citizen?
Many Americans are interested in living abroad and experiencing cultures different from their own, so it's not surprising that many people from elsewhere want to come to America, as well. In fact, according to American Community Survey (ACS) data, more than 43 million immigrants resided in the U.S. in 2016. And many of them rent.
Renting as a non-citizen is absolutely plausible, but just like an American-born renter, you'll be similarly scrutinized before signing a lease. Read on for a quick rundown of what you'll likely need to provide and what to expect overall.
Proof of income
That charming accent you bring to the table won't get you out of paying rent, and your landlord wants to know that you'll pay on time each month. As such, part of your rental application will ask for information about your job or employment history.
In the United States, the general rule of thumb dictates you should spend about 30 percent of your income on rent. Do the math beforehand to see if you (and your roommate or roommates) can collectively afford the place in which you're interested, because your landlord's going to do it for you, as well.
Rent, of course, won't be your only housing-related expense, so do research (you can even ask the landlord or property manager) to get an estimate of utilities such as water, gas and electricity. Some power companies even have online calculators you can use, plugging in things like square footage to determine what it will cost to heat or cool the place.
Most apartment communities will require a security deposit when you sign a lease. If you have a pet, a pet deposit may be required, as well. These fees serve as financial insurance for the landlord should you fail to pay your rent, break your lease or damage the property in any way.
What's more, when renting as a non-citizen, you may be asked for a larger deposit in the event the property management company is unable to thoroughly check your credit.
Proof of immigration status
While there are federal laws in place that expressly prohibit landlords or property management companies from discriminating against or excluding prospective tenants on the basis of gender, race, religion, disability, familial status or (and for our purposes here, especially) national origin, it is 100 percent legal to ask rental applicants to provide documentation regarding their immigration status.
Simply put, business is business. Your status is directly connected to whether your landlord can expect you to remain in the United States for the full term of your lease. If your documentation only permits you to stay in the country for another eight months, you won't be able to fulfill the terms of a 12-month lease. That could be valid grounds for denying your application.
Refusing to rent to a non-citizen solely on the basis of his or her citizenship, however (assuming their citizenship would not prevent them from fulfilling the terms of the lease) is prohibited by law.
This content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.