We just need someone who is willing to work with us.
When it comes to rental critera, there are 3 things that landlords generally consider. You can be weak in one or two areas and still find housing since you just can't be denied housing for most everything. This is what landlords look for:
1) Two years of employment/income in the same job or similar job/industry. Just because you are receiving unemployment benefits does not mean you can't rent a place to live. Most of the time INCOME MUST MEET THREE OR MORE TIMES THE RENT AMOUNT, regardless of the source of the income. So if the rent is $1500/month, your household gross monthly income must exceed $4500 from all sources. Doen't matter the source as long as you have documentation verifying it.
2) Two years of positive rental history and ontime payments. No past evictions showing on credit report (you said you have this covered)
3) Two years of ontime payments on your credit report, or paying as agreed, etc. MEDICAL COLLECTIONS AND STUDENT LOAN DEBT DOES NOT COUNT AGAINST YOU.
An open Chapter 13 should be disclosed up front, and the first question you should ask potential landlords is "DO YOU HAVE A PUBLISHED POLICY ADDRESSING PROSPECTIVE RENTERS WITH CURRENT CHAPTER 13 REPAYMENT PLANS?" If they don't have a written policy automatically denying tenancy to someone with this status (and I don't know of any company denying based on Ch13), then it will just be considered negative credit and they will automatically ask for first, last, and security deposit. It takes a lot of cash to get into a rental these days, I hope you are able to float it. I recommend looking for a professionally managed property.The screening policy will be in writing and there won't be any hinky business with some individual landlord who may discriminate against you out of ignorance. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. There is a Residential Landlord-Tenant Act that protects both sides. (See web reference)
If you are sick of the Craigslist rat race and would like some help tapping into a pool of rental properties that may not be advertised elsewhere, my property management background really helps me as a real estate broker to get folks into rentals. The service of a professional costs you nothing. And I don't mind the small token commission that most agents won't give the time of day to. It is paid by the property owner to their listing agent, who then shares it with agents like me.
I agree with Nicole, each landlord will set their own parameters for what they deem acceptable credit. While you may not get your first choice, you will likely find some alternatives. Be prepared to explain what caused the bk, how you've resolved the issue and will be a good tenant in the future.
In my experience there are many good people who have had one time issues beyond their control that resulted in a BK. I would encourage a landlord to consider such a potential tenant. If you have a long term history of bad credit with nothing but poor discipline to blame, you will have a more difficult time finding a sympathetic landlord.
Remember landlords usually have mortgages reliant on rental income to pay, so as long as the landlord gets paid the mortgage gets paid and everyone is happy.
Offer first last and damage to another landlord and it most likely will do the trick.
I don't kow of anyone who hasn't been slammed by this economy.
(LESS TAXES MEANS MORE JOBS, if Washington understood that we'd all be better off.)