Challenges Immigrants Face When Looking for Apartments to Rent or Buy in the United States

Posted On Wednesday, 25 March 2020 15:28

Access to affordable and decent housing is an integral element in the fulfillment of the American dream as well as an essential human right and need. Since time immemorial, finding a place to call home has been one of the driving forces for most immigrants in the US. They move to American to look for an opportunity to fulfill their dreams and to improve their lives, which are tied to finding an affordable, secure and stable haven.

Immigrants are resilient and play a vital role in the communities they settle in. However, they face many barriers and challenges in buying or renting houses in the US. Research shows that most immigrants spend more than 30% of their income to pay for housing. That’s why the dream of most immigrants to buy or rent an affordable and safe apartment is still out of reach even today.

One of the most common immigrant population in the US is the immigrant Indian popuation. Below are the challenges that immigrants face in their search for apartments for Indians in the USA:

1. Lack of Affordable Housing

After arrival, new immigrants mostly depend on private rent. But since most of them are jobless, they can barely pay the monthly rent, upfront deposit, and insurance. Also, newly arrived immigrants are unaware of the rules and regulations regarding the rental sector. And they don’t know how to sustain the houses once they get access.

More often, private landlords decline to rent their apartments to international protection beneficiaries, increase rents, or even add more administrative conditions. As a result, this can lead to illegal renting, overcrowding, poor housing conditions, among other problems.

2. Substandard Housing

Since most immigrants can barely afford to buy or rent an apartment, they have no option but to live in substandard apartments. Such houses lack basic utilities and have many quality and sanitary risks, including pest infestation. The houses are also far away from crucial services such as health facilities, public transportation, and shopping stores while paying exorbitant rates.

3. Overcrowding

As mentioned above, the lack of affordable housing can result in overcrowding. This is because most immigrants come in large families. So when they find a unit, ten to twenty people share a single-family house.

4. Lack of Proper Documentation and Background Checks

When buying or renting an apartment, landlords conduct background checks and you need the right documents too. However, most immigrants lack legal documentation, which limits their ability to be selective when looking for a house. As a result, they settle for substandard houses since they lack the necessary immigration documents required to pass a background check for a safe home.

5. Exploitation by Landlords

Immigrants are most vulnerable to exploitation and discrimination when renting or buying an apartment. Some landlords tend to overcharge rent, ignore maintenance, and threaten to report them to immigration authorities if they complain or try to fight for their rights.

6. Lack of Credit History

Most immigrants have no credit history and no references as well. That’s why it’s overwhelming to buy a house in the US since you cannot find a cosigner. When it comes to banking, most banks overcharge or take advantage of migrants due to lack of knowledge. Moreover, they cannot help you without a credit history.

Long-tenured immigrants who are ready to buy an apartment also face this challenge. Most of them transact using cash, which makes it difficult to build up a credit history. Moreover, most of them lack the financial capacity to consistently pay a mortgage.

7. Displacement

When most immigrant families lose jobs or experience hiked rents, they are forced to relocate. As a result, they are displaced from their established community and move to new areas.  Such instability forces them to settle for substandard houses.

8. Settling in Insecure Neighborhoods

When looking to buy or rent a home in the US, most immigrants can only afford houses located in unsafe neighborhoods with poor housing conditions. Some of these neighborhoods are potential relocation spots from pending projects, have high levels of crime, and the house units cannot accommodate an entire family. Other neighborhoods are noisy, have dilapidated and poorly maintained homes, and due to increased ethnic mix, there is heightened racial tension.


Although immigrants play a huge and significant role in the community, they carry a heavy burden and face many challenges in their quest to secure an apartment in the communities benefiting from their contributions.

They face discrimination, high costs, lack of documents and credit history, displacement, among others. As a result, they are forced to live in substandard houses. On the other hand, those who can afford to buy, the units cannot accommodate their large families, which can lead to overcrowding.

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