Renting a Place
updated September 22, 2017

Anybody who can afford it can rent an apartment or home at the listed price. People who cannot afford market-rate rents may qualify for certain programs that help pay for these rentals.

What They Are

Market-rate rentals include single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments. The term "market rate” means that the monthly rent is set by what the owner of the building would like to charge and what the owner thinks people would be willing to pay.

Market-rate rentals do not usually include any additional services in the rent, such as cooking, cleaning, personal care assistance, or skilled nursing. If you need these services, you can get them separately. See HB101's Services article to learn more about the sorts of services you can get and to see whether Medical Assistance (MA) might help you pay for them.

A landlord must make sure the place you rent is in good repair and meets safety and health codes. The Minnesota Attorney General’s office has good information about these laws. FairHousingMN.org has information about the rights that tenants with disabilities have.

How You Pay

You pay rent each month. Generally, people pay rent using money they have in savings or income. There are some public programs that may help you with your rent in a market-rate rental, including:

  • The Section 8 housing choice voucher program. Section 8 helps people with very low income. To sign up, you must get on a waiting list and when you are approved, you must find a landlord who accepts Section 8 vouchers. With a voucher, you will pay about 30% of your income on rent and Section 8 will pay the rest.
  • Other similar programs, such as Housing Trust Fund (HTF) Rental Assistance, Bridges, and McKinney-Vento.These programs, run by local agencies, help people with specific circumstances like homelessness, mental illness, or disability. Like Section 8, these programs allow you to live in any place where the landlord agrees to accept them and you end up paying about 30% of your income on rent. The agency that runs each program sets the exact eligibility rules.
  • Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA) Housing Assistance. If you are eligible for MSA and paying more than 40% of your income on housing expenses, you may qualify for $194 per month in Housing Assistance to help you pay for your room and board.
  • The Renter’s Property Tax Refund (also called the Renter’s Credit). If you have low to moderate income and pay rent, you can get this tax credit.

Finding a Place

There are many ways to find a place to rent. Here are a few you can try:

  • Search online, using websites such as HousingLink
  • Look at bulletin boards in community locations
  • Check ads in newspapers
  • Get recommendations from people you know, and
  • Ask nonprofits that help people with housing.

When you look for a place, make sure you think about your needs. You may want to take a friend with you to check out the places that interest you. Here are some questions to think about when you look at a place to rent:

  • What is absolutely necessary for you? For example, if you use a wheelchair, you must have a place that is wheelchair accessible. If you have children, you may need more than one bedroom.
  • Is there adequate public transportation?
  • Does the apartment include appliances or furniture? If not, can you afford to get them? If you cannot, you may be able to get help from a nonprofit program like Bridging, which helps people in the Twin Cities furnish their homes.
  • Do you feel comfortable in this apartment?
  • Do you feel comfortable in this neighborhood?
  • Can you afford the monthly rent?
  • Can you afford to make a security deposit? Most rentals require you make a deposit when you move in. This money is used to repair any damage you caused. Any money left over after the repairs are completed is returned to you when you move out.
  • If you have a Section 8 voucher or get help with your rent from another program, will the landlord accept that as a form of payment?

If the answer is yes to all of those questions and you like a place, you can try to rent it. Remember, nicer and more affordable places may be hard to get, because other people will also want to rent them.

You may have trouble finding a place to rent if you have problems like bad credit, a criminal background, a poor rental history. Read about strategies for getting around these problems in HB101's Finding Home article.

Find Local Services