How I Got Every Landlord in Town to Accept My Housing Voucher

Last year, when I needed to move, I started contacting landlords, but I ran into a problem: no one would accept my housing voucher.

I tried everything I could think of. I wrote a nice personal letter of introduction. I collected and enclosed letters of reference from my past landlords explaining what a wonderful tenant I was. I sent screenshots of my bank account to show that I pay my rent one week early every month. I collected and enclosed my credit statement to show that I have good credit and no history of debt or evictions. I sent my photo, information about myself and my circumstances, explained how I was disabled, quiet, non-smoker, non-drinker, and middle-aged. I was homebound and could not visit properties, but I made personal phone calls to try to talk and connect with potential landlords.

Nothing worked. No landlords wanted to accept a housing voucher. I was still denied everywhere, except for low income housing projects. The housing projects would have been very bad for my disabilities, as most of them had flights of stairs, a lot of noise, and other barriers to my mobility and well-being.

Then something surprising happened. I discovered that source of income protection laws had recently passed in my state. No one had told me. Here is where you can find out if these laws now exist in your area:

Map of Source of Income Laws

I decided to take a totally different approach. I stopped telling landlords anything about myself. I didn’t contact them at all. I didn’t tell them I had a voucher and I didn’t ask them for anything. I just went on their website and applied. If the house looked like a match for me, I applied.

Then I wrote a letter about source of income discrimination laws, and immediately after submitting each application, I emailed them the letter. I will enclose my letter below.

I was so used to being turned down everywhere, that I applied five different places and paid five different application fees and crossed my fingers that one place would approve me.

That’s not what happened. All five places approved me. I also wrote back to a few places where I had been previously denied and told them that I thought it was an unlawful denial. They changed their mind and also wanted to approve me. One landlord personally called me to apologize.

Here is the email I sent:

Lilac’s Letter for Source of Income Discrimination Protection

Hazel also used these laws in a text:

Hazel’s Text About Minimum Income Requirements

Source of income protection laws do not work for everyone. But they worked for me. I wanted to share my letter and story in the hopes that it might help someone else.

More Tools That Can Help

If you have other problems getting approved, here are some strategies that might help. these tools are for a household where at least one person or child is disabled. Or for someone who is a survivor of domestic violence:

Criminal Background

Credit Checks

Past Evictions

Bad Landlord References

Landlord Requires Income 3x Rent

If you can’t go into the office:

Apply by Mail or Email

If you don’t know how your landlord decides to approve or deny your application:

How Tenant Selection Policies Work

If the rent is too high for your voucher:

How to Request a Higher Voucher

Everything else you need to know while searching for housing with a voucher:

How to Find a Landlord Who Will Accept Your Housing Voucher

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