Renting in the U.S. as a Foreigner: Overcoming the Challenges


A 'for rent' sign placed on a couch, representing the challenges of renting a property in the U.S. as a foreigner

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Becoming a renter in America can be challenging for anyone – especially for those who are not U.S. citizens. Finding the right place to rent is one thing – renting in the U.S. as a foreign resident is another. It’s standard to go through an application process before being taken on as a tenant, and in order for your application to be approved, you must meet certain requirements

Landlords require applicants to meet certain criteria in order to secure reliable, responsible tenants. They want to make sure that whoever lives in their rental will not only take care of the space but pay their rent on time throughout their lease. Property owners usually have responsibilities like paying mortgages and bank loans, so they want to feel confident that you won’t be a risk to their income.

If you’re an international who’s relocated to America, securing a rental can seem daunting but there are steps you can take to make the process easier. Keep reading this quick guide for answers to the questions you may have about qualifying as a tenant in the U.S. when you’re not a U.S. citizen.     

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What documents do I need for renting as a foreigner?

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of immigration status 
  • Proof of income or assets  
  • Personal references
  • An offer form 

Requirements for home applications vary, but generally landlords are looking for proof that you are who you say you are, proof that you earn enough to pay rent each month, and proof that you’ll be a hassle-free tenant. When you aren’t a U.S. citizen, landlords also want assurance that you are in the country legally. All you need to do to validate the above to a prospective landlord is provide them with the right documents. 

Here are some of the documents you should gather when preparing to renting as a foreigner:

Proof of identification 

A form of photo ID such as a passport or driver’s license. 

Proof of immigration status

Evidence of lawful presence such as a green card or visa.

Proof of income or assets  

Statements that prove you or a guarantor has enough money in assets or monthly income to consistently pay monthly rent.

Personal references

Letters from previous landlords that vouch for you as a tenant. 

An offer form 

A form, provided by a landlord, that you complete by providing personal details.  

Can I apply with an international guarantor?

A guarantor is someone who co-signs your lease in order to guarantee that your rent will be paid. By co-signing, they agree to pay your rent if you are unable to for any reason. A guarantor is usually a trustworthy, financially stable person with good credit, such as a parent or guardian. If you are unable to secure a guarantor on your own, you can use a guarantor service. These third-party companies act as your guarantor and cosign your lease.   

June’s partner TheGuarantors offers this service. If you’re unable to find a guarantor on your own, they will cosign your lease for a small fee.

Your guarantor does not have to be American, but they must have proof of a certain amount of assets or income. Financial requirements will vary, but generally your guarantor will need to have proof of 80x the amount of rent in assets or income. Some landlords also require that your guarantor lives in the tri-state area, so be sure to determine these kinds of details beforehand. 

What if I don’t have U.S. credit history?

A U.S. credit score is a number ranging from 300-850 that symbolizes your ability to pay back loans, based on the history of your financial behaviors. Landlords check the credit scores of applicants as another way of assessing if they’re financially reliable. 

If you have never lived in America, you most likely don’t have an American credit score, but you may not need one to apply for an apartment. Usually simply providing proof of income or assets or a guarantor’s proof of income or assets is enough.  

Do I need an approved U.S. visa? 

Yes. Unfortunately, there is no way around this one. You cannot rent an apartment in America unless you have a legal right to reside in the country.

Do I need a social security number?

No. A social security number is a number unique to each American citizen. It is used for some identification purposes and to track Social Security benefits. You don’t need to have a social security number to rent an apartment in America, as there are other ways you can provide proof of identity. 

Renting as a foreigner: bonus tips

  • Prepare your documents in advance 
  • Read your lease thoroughly
  • Research neighborhoods
  • Be wary of scams 
may the force be with you minimalistic poster

Prepare your documents in advance 

Be sure to gather all the documents we’ve listed above before you even start searching and applying for apartments. Not only will this make the application stage easier, but you could get your name in the running for a home quicker than other applicants.

Read your lease thoroughly

A lease is a big commitment. Before you sign anything, make sure you’ve got a good understanding of all its terms.

Research neighborhoods

Research and – if you can – explore neighborhoods you’re considering living in before taking the leap and moving there. You want to make sure it offers the amenities you need, such as public transport and convenience stores. 

Be wary of scams 

Unfortunately there are plenty of fake apartment listings out there. Luckily, there are red flags to look out for. Check out our checklist on how to identify a shady apartment advertisement here.

It’s easier with June Homes

Renting as a foreigner in the U.S. can be a daunting task, so don’t do it alone. If you’re an international resident, rent with June and enjoy an easy, visa-friendly application process that doesn’t require you to have a U.S. credit score. Find out more about our requirements for international residents here. 

Browse our listings to find the perfect rental, and we’ll guide you through the process of securing it. Rent furnished or unfurnished, with roommates or alone and for as long it suits you: from 1 – 18 months. We don’t charge broker fees, and 24/7 maintenance support is available to all residents. Contact us today for an easier renting journey as an international resident.

Discover Your Perfect Home Away from Home with June Homes

Whether you’re seeking a short-term rental in NYC, a furnished apartment in Boston, or a cozy room in Chicago, we’re here to assist. Reach out to us with your preferences, and let us lead you to the residence of your dreams.

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