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Can an Apartment Reject You for Misdemeanors? Here’s the Answer

Can an Apartment Reject You for Misdemeanors?

Navigating the rental market can pose a significant challenge for many, especially those with a criminal record, even if it’s a minor offense. A commonly pondered query is can an apartment reject you for misdemeanors?

The response isn’t a simple one, as it delves into the intricate web of federal and state regulations, landlord prerogatives, and the nature of the misdemeanor involved.

The purpose of this article is to illuminate the complexities of this matter by providing a thorough guide on what awaits you during the apartment application procedure, how landlords assess candidates with misdemeanors, and practical advice for securing an apartment even if a misdemeanor adorns your record. 

What’s Involved in a Background Check for an Apartment?

The criminal background check is often the most concerning for applicants with a misdemeanor. The depth of the search will reveal felonies, misdemeanors, arrests, and sometimes traffic violations. Note that state laws and regulations affect criminal background check scope. Some states limit the reporting of arrests that do not result in convictions, while others disclose all criminal history.

Among applicants with a misdemeanor, the criminal background examination tends to be the most disquieting. This meticulous review unveils not only felonious transgressions but also misdemeanors, apprehensions, and occasionally even traffic infractions, contingent upon the thoroughness of the investigation.

It’s worth acknowledging that the extent of this criminal background assessment can fluctuate in accordance with state-specific statutes and guidelines. For instance, certain states curtail the disclosure of arrests that didn’t culminate in convictions, whereas others permit the revelation of one’s entire criminal history.

What Types of Crimes Prevent You from Getting an Apartment?

The landlord’s policies and state laws determine which crimes can prevent you from renting an apartment. In broad terms, violent offenses, drug-related misconduct, and sexual impropriety tend to carry a higher likelihood of application rejection. Nonetheless, misdemeanors, characterized as lesser violations, frequently receive less severe scrutiny and may not entail automatic disqualification.

For instance, a misdemeanor linked to disorderly conduct may not be scrutinized as severely as one tied to drug distribution. The type of crime, the duration since the incident, and indications of rehabilitation all possess the potential to sway a landlord’s judgment.

Importantly, federal statutes forbid outright prohibitions on renting to individuals with criminal histories, as such actions could be construed as discriminatory. Nevertheless, landlords retain the authority to decline applicants if they perceive that the criminal behavior might pose a threat to the property or fellow tenants.

However, if you live in Arkansas, not paying rent can be classed as a misdemeanor, so make sure to pay your rent on time!

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How Landlords Might Evaluate Applicants with Misdemeanors

Landlords hold a significant stake in preserving the safety, security, and profitability of their properties. Consequently, they frequently adopt a risk evaluation strategy when appraising candidates with misdemeanors. This method weighs the offense’s severity, its relevance to rental properties, and any extenuating factors that may reduce risk.

Consider this scenario: A landlord may be more lenient toward an applicant with a minor trespassing offense from years ago if they can prove their law-abiding behavior. Conversely, a recent misdemeanor for theft could trigger cautionary concerns, as it potentially pertains directly to the landlord-tenant dynamic.

Some landlords use a point-based framework, assigning different point values to misdemeanor types. Applicants must keep their total points below a certain threshold for tenancy consideration.

How to Get an Apartment If You Have Misdemeanors

Nothing is completely hopeless if you have a misdemeanor on your record. First, contemplate disclosing your criminal history upfront. Transparency can be a powerful asset, and volunteering this information prior to the background investigation demonstrates your commitment to transparency.

Be ready to furnish context and proof of rehabilitation, including accomplishments in community service, educational attainments, or a stable employment history.

An alternative strategy involves seeking out private landlords instead of large property management corporations. Private landlords tend to exhibit greater adaptability and may be open to direct discussions regarding your circumstances.

Consider offering an increased security deposit as a gesture of goodwill or presenting references from past landlords, employers, or community figures who can attest to your dependability and integrity.


Expungement stands as a potent resource for those with misdemeanors grappling with rental market obstacles. This legal procedure essentially “erases” a criminal record, rendering it inaccessible through state or federal repositories.

Typically, once a record undergoes expungement, you possess the legal authority to declare that you have never been convicted of said offense, effectively eliminating a substantial barrier in the rental application procedure.

Expungement requirements vary by jurisdiction and offense. If enough time has passed since the conviction or the offender has completed probation or community service, non-violent misdemeanors are more likely to be expunged. In certain states, eligibility may additionally necessitate the display of good conduct during a designated waiting period.

Renting an apartment can be greatly improved by expungement. It takes the misdemeanor off your record and means you do not have to say anything about it on a rental application. Understand that expungement can be complicated and require legal assistance.

However, the benefits usually outweigh the costs and effort, making it a highly effective method for increasing rental opportunities. If you are considering this, consult a lawyer to learn about local requirements.

More Tips for Renting with a Misdemeanor

There are more ways to improve your application than the ones we have already talked about. so can an apartment reject you for misdemeanors? You’ve got a better chance if you follow these steps.

A viable option is to contemplate having a co-signer. Essentially, a co-signer acts as a guarantor, committing to cover the rent in the event you are unable to do so. This can provide the landlord with an extra level of assurance and might make them more inclined to overlook a misdemeanor.

Another avenue to explore is apartments that explicitly state “no background check” or “second chance” rentals. These typically involve smaller complexes or individual landlords who adopt a more flexible screening approach. Keep in mind, though, that such options might be situated in less ideal locations or come with higher rental rates. 

Finally, seeking legal counsel can be immensely beneficial. Consulting with an attorney can help you grasp your legal rights and potentially explore the prospect of expunging your record, effectively erasing the misdemeanor from public records.


So can an apartment reject you for misdemeanors? Basically, It depends on the misdemeanor, the landlord’s policies, and state laws whether an apartment can deny you. Although a misdemeanor can add complexity to the rental process, it’s not an impassable hurdle. 

By comprehending the intricacies of background checks, grasping how landlords assess risk, and implementing tactics to strengthen your application, you can enhance your prospects of securing a rental. Keep in mind that everyone deserves an opportunity for a fresh start, and with the right approach, you can discover a landlord willing to provide you with that chance.

Want to know if you can add a felon to your lease? Read this post.

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