Apartment Landlords and Your Credit Report: The Why, What, and How

keys on walletAs part seven of our series about renting with credit, we’re looking at the way landlords handle renters and their credit.  Once you have toured the property, talked with a leasing agent, and filled out the apartment’s rental application, the review process begins and your fate is in the landlord’s hands.  So what happens after you hand over that apartment application?  Here is a basic breakdown of what landlords need from a credit check.

Why do landlords require a credit check?

Landlords run credit checks because before accepting you as a renter, they need to know how reliable you will be as a tenant.  Apartment landlords want to be sure you will consistently and punctually pay your rent and other bills, and that you will be able to pay your deposits.  Landlords also want to know if you have been a reliable renter in the past, which is something your rental history will reveal.

What do landlords look for in a credit check?

When landlords run a credit check, they are looking for a variety of things.  Because your credit report is basically a summation of your financial history, they are looking for inconsistencies or irresponsible behavior.  Examples include late bill payments on everything from monthly rent to student loans, conviction of a crime, eviction, involvement in any type of lawsuit, and a credit history.  They are also looking at your rental history to determine what kind of renter you were at your previous home.

How do landlords run a check credit?

To check your credit, landlords will work with a credit reporting agency or a tenant screening service.  They will need your name, current address, social security number or individual taxpayer identification number, and your authorization to run a credit check. All of these are usually required on the apartment’s application.  In many cases, landlords are legally allowed to charge you for the credit check.  The request for a credit report will issue a hard inquiry on your report, which might have a negative effect on your credit score, so you may want to provide your potential landlord with a copy of your report along with your apartment’s application.  However, note that in most cases the landlord is not required by law to accept it.


For more tips about renting apartments and credit, be sure to check out the rest of our series about credit, including Apartment Credit Scores 101, 5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score, and How to Rent an Apartment with Bad Credit.  Have a question about renting apartments and credit that wasn’t answered in our series?  Find AparmentSearch.com on Twitter and Facebook and ask us.