We woke up the morning of Monday, February 13th ready to hit the problem head-on. We had use of a car, some money in the bank, thanks to our tax refund, and Nessie was comfortably ensconced at a friend's house. Packing our rental listings, we took care of some errands (including visiting our storage unit to swap oout some items we didn't need) and headed for one of the cheaper apartment complexes on our list.
These apartments, not far from where we used to live, didn't indicate that they performed background or credit checks. Furthermore, the rents listed were cheap, and it was just steps from the bus line. It seemed like a perfect combination said spelled "cheap and easy to get".
Walking into the leasing office, I strode boldly up to the woman behind the desk and told her we were interested in renting one of her units.
"Alright, the application fee is $20, and we want you to fill out this authorization form to perform a background and credit check."
But the listing we had mentined none of that. That's why we chose that complex. Then the woman said something else that almost bowled me over: "And I'll tell you right now, if you have anything whatsoever on your record, you're better off just keeping your $20."
Well as refreshing as the honesty was, we were taken aback. We were sure we'd be able to at least see one of the units before being rejected.
We talked to the woman for another half-hour. My inital assessment was incorrect; she wasn't being a bitch. On the contrary, she was one of the most honest people we'd met since this journey began. Turns out she'd been in real estate management for 23 years and had a wealth of expertise. The gist of what we learned from her was that the combination of my credit record, that eviction and my ridiculously low pay meant that our family would be on the streets for a long, long time.
Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I felt The Beast stir.
She did let us know we had a slim hope; we could try our luck with one of the private landlords around town; not all of them did creadit checks, but more and more were beginning to each year. As to her company, we discovered that most of the major complexes around town either were managed by the same company or used the same company to perform the background checks. In short: we could just forget about moving into one of the apartment complexes.
We thanked the woman and left after she suggested a few places to try and look for work to bring our income up (she'd reminded me of a fact I'd forgotten, that housing costs shouldn't exceed roughly one-third of income; in other words, we had to be making three times the amount of whatever we wanted to rent to live without risking another eviction.)
As it was growing late in the day, and I felt The Beast trying to wake up, I called the rest of the search off. We retreated to the hotel to decide what to do next.