Everyone knows someone who has lost a home to foreclosure, whether it was the involuntary result of a job loss or the voluntary surrender of a hopelessly underwater / unaffordable property. You don't have to put a bag on your head to go outside, you still get invited to parties, and there isn't a 60 Minutes crew standing outside your door. It's not the end of the world.

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Landlords are pickier than your friends

However, one by-product of the foreclosure epidemic is that home ownership is down and there is a lot more competition for the good rental properties--the ones that don't have bars on the windows and aren't located next to the railyard.

Because renting is a business for landlords, they want to rent to folks who won't cost them money by trashing the place or failing to pay their rent. Which means tenants with good credit and references will be given priority over those without. According to CreditCards.com, many landlords want to see credit scores of about 670.

What if you have bad credit?

If you have bad credit, you can make up for it to some extent by furnishing excellent references from your employer and past landlords. Also helpful is a stable work history, and choose a place that you can easily afford on your income. You may get past your bad credit by offering a higher-than-normal deposit--if everyone else is getting by with first month's rent and a cleaning deposit, try offering two months' rent. Or take a six-month lease and prepay the whole thing. You could also offer to set up rent payments to be automatically deducted from your checking account. You'll also want to compose a letter explaining your credit problems and why they won't become your landlord's problems.