Renting a Place
updated December 4, 2018

People can rent an apartment or home at the listed price, if they can afford it. If you can’t afford market-rate rents, you can save money by sharing a place with somebody else or you may qualify for programs that help with rent.

What They Are

Market-rate rentals include single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments. “Market rate” means that the monthly rent is set by what the owner of the building thinks somebody will pay.

Market-rate rentals don’t usually offer services, 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 if Medical Assistance (MA) might help you 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 good information about these laws. FairHousingMN.org has information about the rights of tenants with disabilities.

How You Pay

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

You might live in housing that is only for people with low income, such as public housing or project-based housing. If so, the rent is kept low so that it is more affordable. HUD’s low-rent apartment search engine and HousingLink can help you find these types of places.

Or, you might live in a market-rate rental. If you live in a market-rate rental, some public programs may help you with your rent:

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

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.

Rent can be a lot cheaper, because two-bedroom apartments don’t cost twice as much as one-bedroom apartments. 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. Rumi has hundreds of options to choose from, so that you can find your ideal location, roommate, rent amount and services.

Finding a Place

There are many ways to find a place to rent:

  • Searching online, using websites such as HousingLink
  • 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 may help you get these if you can’t afford them. For example, Bridging, helps with them in the Twin Cities.
  • 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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