Is renting a problem for the self-employed

Working as a freelancer or consultant can sometimes raise the eyebrows of landlords. They sometimes worry that you’ll be unable to pay the rent month after month. Although such a scenario can occur with people no matter what their employment situation, some landlords get a bit antsy when they hear the words "self-employed" or "freelancer".

So, if you’re on the hunt for rental housing, what can you do? Well, before I ever owned my own home, I ran into a building management company that hesitated to allow me to rent. To put their minds at ease, I:

  • offered a bigger deposit
  • asked if they wanted to see past bank statements to confirm my income history
  • showed them my previous year’s tax return
  • asked them to check past rental references
  • encouraged them to check my credit
  • inquired as to whether they wanted to see some signed consulting contracts

In the end, the building management company just went with what I said. They decided that anyone willing to provide that much information must be okay. They didn’t even ask for a bigger deposit. They just trusted me.

The funny thing is what happened with the gainfully employed roommate who co-signed the lease. About three months after we moved in, he disappeared in the middle of the night, quitting his job and leaving the city on the last day of the month. Suddenly, I was left to carry the rent on an ocean-view 2BR apartment in a pricey part of Vancouver. And guess what? I made good on the lease. When I eventually moved out, the rep from the building management company noted that they were impressed that someone who was self-employed kept up such high payments on their own. Then they gave me that roommate’s half of the security deposit, which they technically could have kept.

It just goes to show that a regular job is no guarantee of someone’s character.

Tony says:

I wonder if you can you still take a deduction on your taxes for a home office if you rent? I haven’t rented for some time and that was well before my consulting business.

Andrea says:

I’ve always deducted rent or mortgage interest. However, this may vary from country to country and from situation to situation. It makes sense to contact your local tax authorities.