Apartments in Austin are too strict!...I'm going to lease from an individual! 
There are times when this is your best bet. Many individual owners don't run extensive credit checks and its easier to qualify. Many owners are flat desperate and will let anyone in. Typically this is what I tell people to do if I can't help them. Drive the area you want to live in looking for those "For Rent" signs posted in the yard or on a telephone post. But beware...very few individuals that own property have any real experience in rental property management. Any property that is being professionally managed will run credit checks. 

The place is falling apart and I can't get anything done about it. 
That is the drawback with individual owners... they don't have deep pockets. Maintenance can be a nightmare.So can utility bills. (see tenants rights) The other drawback is because they don't do background and credit checks you may be living next to an ax murderer. In a professionally managed property all your neighbors will have passed the same credit checks you had too. 

2016 UPDATE: 
 Due to Austin'  strict qualifying standards private owners may be your only choice. Knowing the potential problems going in cant hurt .

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