Senior Renters With Poor Credit Have Options

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Nationwide nonprofit law firm provides seniors with credit problems a free letter to prospective landlords to assist in rental applications

Most landlords don't realize senior's retirement income,... is protected by federal law...and always available to pay their rent

One of the most common concerns among lower-income seniors is fear that their poor credit rating will affect their ability to rent. According to the Kaiser Foundation, nearly half of seniors over 65 have incomes less than 200% of the poverty line. A recent report by Investopedia explains that seniors are retiring owing more debt than ever before. As a result, many suffer from poor credit. Eric Olsen, the Executive Director of HELPS, a nationwide 501 (c)(3) nonprofit law firm, states “Most landlords don’t realize that seniors’ retirement income – like social security, pensions, disability and VA benefits – is protected by federal law. It can’t be garnished or taken from them. Therefore, their income is always available to pay their rent.

Olsen went on to explain that many landlords don’t understand how this basic fact distinguishes seniors from younger people with poor credit. A poor credit report for a younger person indicates they could be sued and their income garnished, and therefore they might not be able to pay their rent. However, landlords shouldn’t have this worry when it comes to seniors with poor credit.

In furtherance of its mission to help lower-income seniors, HELPS offers to provide any senior receiving protected income a letter addressed to a “prospective landlord” that explains the laws protecting seniors’ income. “HELPS has been doing this for several years. We have received many reports that this letter made all the difference because landlords didn’t realize that seniors’ income is protected,” Olsen explained.

HELPS will provide this letter to any senior who desires it. In addition, HELPS will send a letter explaining the best ways to apply for rental housing. “We want to save seniors a wasted application fee,” Olsen explained. “If seniors have poor credit, they can give the prospective landlord the letter explaining their income is protected – before they pay an application fee. With a letter from an attorney explaining protected income, the hope is that a senior’s poor credit will not negatively affect the decision to rent.” HELPS does not charge for the landlord letter.

Additionally, HELPS personalizes the letter for each senior with his or her name. It is available to seniors in all 50 states. Call HELPS toll free at 855-435-7787 or visit HELPS on the web at to learn how else HELPS assists lower-income seniors nationwide.

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Eric Olsen Executive Director
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