10 tips for a successful rental credit check


Passing a rental credit check doesn’t have to be stressful if you prepare in advance.

Before applying for a lease, be sure to check your credit report and correct any errors, collect pay stubs or bank statements to verify your income. You can also talk to friends or family to find a willing co-signer, save enough to pay a larger down payment or several months of rent in advance, collect references from past landlords, and most of all, be honest with your potential owner.

Credit checks are taxing at the best of times, and if you need to pass a credit check to rent your next apartment, the pressure is on. Wondering how to make the note? Do not worry. Credit repair, co-signer agreements, larger deposits, and simple honesty can all help you pass a rental credit check.

In this article, we’ll explore these four solutions in a bit more detail and explore six other ways to increase your chances of successful credit checking.

  • Why Do Homeowners Perform Credit Checks?
  • How do I go through a rental credit check?
  • What to watch out for as a tenant
  • What if you have bad credit?
  • Rental credit check envelope

Why Do Homeowners Perform Credit Checks?

The owners execute credit checks because they want to make sure that a potential tenant is trustworthy. Some owners use additional filtering tools, such as consumption reports, before making rental decisions. From time to time, landlords check tenant public profiles on social media before issuing leases. So be careful what you post online.

Your future landlord or rental agent must obtain your authorization before performing a credit check. Your signature on a rental agreement may serve as written authorization, or you may need to sign a separate credit check document.

What is included in a rental credit check?

Some landlords use services provided by homeowner’s associations or tenant selection companies, while others request credit reports directly from the credit bureaus. The reports they receive will usually contain your:

  • Last name and first name
  • Social Security number
  • Date of Birth
  • Current and old addresses
  • Credit history

Credit reports drawn on potential tenants sometimes include credit scores. Tenant screening and homeowner association reports often include the following additional information:

  • Criminal record
  • Information on sex offenders
  • History of evictions
  • Verification and employment history

How do I go through a rental credit check?

Worried about your next rental credit check? Here are ten proactive things you can do to improve your chances of success:

1. Check your credit report

Knowledge is power, so order a copy of your credit report from all three bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – before you do anything else. Thanks to Fair Credit Reports Act (FCRA), consumers get a free report from each agency each year. Other free options include our credit card, which usefully includes an Experian VantageScore 3.0 credit score that is updated every 14 days.

Do you prefer a complete all-in-one solution to the DIY approach?

Sign up for Additional credit, and you’ll get a full overview of each of your credit reports, as well as access to 28 of your FICO scores. You will also receive personalized credit profile creation offers to help strengthen your credit profile. ExtraCredit alerts let you know if things change on any of your reports.

2. Correct report errors

If you notice any errors on your credit report, dispute them immediately. You can dispute errors at one of the three major credit bureaus online, by email or by phone. Offices have 30 days to respond to challenges, and if they agree with you, they should immediately remove the erroneous information.

While it is possible to dispute the accuracy of errors on your own, it can be tricky if you are not very familiar with the process. If you are too intimidated to go through the process on your own, you can work with a professional credit repair company.

3. Be honest

Honesty is often the best policy, especially if you have bad credit. People with poor credit histories rent homes all the time, so you’re unlikely to fall completely flat. Talk to your potential owner about your financial history and show them what you’ve done to get back on the credit wagon.

Honesty is often the best policy, especially if you have bad credit.

4. Provide other proof of good credit history

Don’t have a lot of credit history? It’s time to think outside the box. Ask your potential landlord or rental agency if you can provide your utility payment history or rent payment record to prove how responsible you are.

5. Demonstrate provable income

Money speaks. If you show the landlord or rental agent solid proof of your income, you will demonstrate your ability to pay the rent. Pay stubs and bank statements can help you paint a picture of your financial situation. You can also offer to pay your rent by direct deposit at the start of each month.

6. Take the tour

Don’t be afraid to shop around for a receptive owner or rental agency. Several credit requests of the same type within a short period of time (a few days or a few weeks) usually count as one firm request.

7. Find a rental without a credit check

Some homeowners don’t check credit or consumer reports. Instead, they go instinctively and prefer a good old-fashioned hunch over a stack of paper. If you’re worried about your credit history, try finding an old-fashioned landlord with a good reputation.

8. Get a referral

Do you have a good rental or employment history? If so, get referrals from past owners, former managers, or your current boss. Include one or more written recommendations with your rental application and provide phone numbers if your potential landlord wants to dig deeper.

9. Get a co-signer or roommate

If you are new to the rental market or have rent payment problems in the past, you might need a co-signer. Also called guarantors, co-signers agree to pay the rent if you don’t. Roommates can play a similar role.

10. Pay a larger deposit

If all else fails, offer the landlord a larger deposit. A few months of rent in advance rather than a month, a larger security deposit or a lump sum payment for the entire year could get you a lease.

What to watch out for as a tenant

You know how to pass a rental credit check, but what should you watch out for as a potential tenant? Avoid the following red flags:

  • Long-distance owners who do not use property management companies
  • Landlords who insist on verbal rather than written leases
  • Landlords who don’t interview or screen their tenants in any way

Who Pays for a Rental Credit Check?

Rental property seekers almost always pay off their credit checks. Most of the time, the credit check fees are included in the application fees. If you are not sure whether you are successful or cannot afford the credit check fees, you may be able to obtain and submit copies of your credit reports free of charge from all three bureaus.

What if you have bad credit?

Everyone starts out with a poor credit profile, so if you don’t have a strong credit history or if your credit needs improvement, don’t despair. Instead, use the following tips to maintain your credit and improve your rental odds:

ExtraCredit’s Build It tool also adds rent and utilities as business lines on your credit profile. You can use Built It to report on-time lease payments, utility payments, and cell phone payments to all three credit bureaus.

What credit rating are homeowners looking for?

Some owners prefer applicants with credit scores on a specific benchmark basis, but many homeowners review their applicants’ credit reports in more detail. Most landlords want to assess the characters of potential tenants before issuing leases.

Rental credit check envelope

Rental credit checks are hard to avoid, but if you monitor your credit reports and correct any errors you find, you’ll get off on the right foot. Still worried? In this case, honesty, proof of income, a larger deposit, and a co-signer might also come in handy. Remember: where there is a will, there is almost always a way.

This post originally appeared on Credit.com.

Credit.com is the only company of its kind founded and run by leading credit experts, including journalists, authors and consumer advocates. We are committed to helping consumers understand and master the confusing world of credit and improve their financial situation by recommending products and actions that are in their best interest.

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