Renting a Place
updated May 10, 2019

People can rent an apartment or home. Renting means you live in the community and pay a monthly amount to live there:

  • You may be able to afford a place at “market rate,” which is an amount the owner thinks someone will pay. You can save some money if you share a place with another person.
  • You may qualify for programs that help with rent; they may either help pay your rent or help you get a subsidized unit with lower rent.

What They Are

Rentals include single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments. Rentals don’t usually offer services, such as cooking, cleaning, personal care assistance, or skilled nursing, but you can get them separately. See HB101’s Services article to learn more about services and to see if Medical Assistance (MA) might help pay for them.

If you rent a place, it must be in good repair and meet safety and health rules. The Minnesota Attorney General’s office has information about these laws.

How You Pay

You pay rent each month. You can use money from savings or income.

Some places are only for people with low income, such as public housing, project-based housing, or housing funded by the Low-Income Tax Credit. In these places, the rent is lower. HUD’s low-rent apartment search engine, HousingLink, and HousingLink Streams can help you find these types of places.

Other places are market-rate. You can pay the full market-rate rent, or you might be able to get help from some public programs:

Note: To get any housing benefits, it is very important to apply or get on the waiting list as soon as possible. See the articles in HB101’s Paying for Housing section for more details.

Share a place, save money, and still have your own room

Share a place, save money, and still have your own room

Sharing a place doesn’t mean you have to share your bedroom with a roommate. Many people share two-bedroom apartments with another person. That lets them split the rent, but they still get their own rooms and shared common areas, like a kitchen, bathroom, and living room. It’s a great way to save money.

Learn more about sharing a place in HB101’s Living with Other People article.

Rapid Re-Housing Housemate Upsides and Downsides is a worksheet that can help you figure out if it makes sense for you to get a roommate and the Individualized Housing Options Resource Guide for Persons with Disabilities has a worksheet for figuring out what to look for in a roommate.

Tip: If you qualify for an MA-Waiver program, you can use Rumi, a free service that helps you find a roommate or live-in caregiver.

Finding a Place

There are many ways to find a place to rent:

  • Searching online, using websites such as HousingLink and Craigslist (these websites are not monitored by the state)
  • Looking at bulletin boards in community locations
  • Checking ads in newspapers
  • Getting recommendations from people you know, and
  • Asking nonprofits that help with housing.

When you look for a place, think about your needs. HB101’s Needs and Wants path is a set of interactive activities that can help you with this.

You may want to take a friend with you to check places out. When you visit a place, think about these sorts of questions:

  • What do you absolutely need? For example, if you use a wheelchair, you must have a place that is wheelchair accessible.
  • Is public transit convenient?
  • Does it have appliances and furniture? If not, can you afford to get them?
    • Tip: Nonprofit programs like Bridging may help you get these if you can’t afford them.
  • Do you feel comfortable in the apartment?
  • Do you feel comfortable in the neighborhood?
  • Can you afford the monthly rent?
  • Can you afford to make a security deposit? You usually have to make a security deposit when you move in. This money is used to pay for repairs to any damage you cause. When you move out, you get back any money that wasn’t used for repairs.
  • If you have a Section 8 voucher or get help with your rent from another program, will the landlord accept it as payment?

If you like a place, you can try to rent it. Remember, places that are nice and low-cost may be hard to get, because other people also want to rent them.

It might be hard to find a place if you have problems like bad credit, a criminal background, or rental history issues. You can read about strategies for solving these problems in HB101’s Finding Home article and you can use HB101’s Present Myself path to prepare to present yourself in a positive way.

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