What Do Landlords Look for in an Apartment Background Check?

Finding an apartment can be difficult, especially when it’s your first apartment. Once you find the right one, you may also find out that the landlord runs a background check on lease applicants—and he or she wants your permission to run one on you.

But fear not! Tenant background checks are pretty standard. Landlords and property managers use them to confirm a possible renter’s identity and trustworthiness. While background checks can vary from landlord to landlord, there are a handful of pretty standard issues they look out for in your background and apartment credit check. Read on to prep for your apartment search.

Rental History

According to MassLegalHelp.org, landlords may ask for references from your current and former lessors and property managers.

By checking your rental background, a potential landlord wants to find out whether you’ve been a good tenant. This includes verifying your rent payment history, checking for prior problems with neighbors, and seeing if you have an eviction on your record.

Employment and Income Verification

A potential landlord may also inquire about your employment history, your job situation, and your income.

Your landlord might ask about your employment history because significant or frequent gaps between jobs may also signal an inconsistent income. To lenders, inconsistent income equals a higher likelihood of missed or late rent payments.

To gauge your ability to pay rent and utilities, the landlord might also request copies of your pay stubs or tax documents (like W2, 1099, and 1040 forms).

Credit Report

To further verify your ability to make rent, a landlord might pull a copy of your credit report.

A credit report gives a landlord an overall look at your finances, such as how much money you’ve borrowed through credit cards, how much money you owe, and how much of that debt you carry over from one month to the next.

When examining your credit report, the landlord also likely will hunt for negative marks, such as bankruptcies, tax liens, and inquiries from collection agencies.

Last but certainly not least, your landlord will look at your credit score. The higher your score, the better your chances are of being approved for an apartment.

All of the information on your credit score gives lenders an idea of your financial state and trustworthiness—and can, therefore, play a significant role in whether you get approved for a flat or get flat out rejected. So, taking steps to heal a bruised credit score prior to your next move can help you get approved for the apartment of your dreams.

Criminal History

In some cases, an apartment background check will involve looking for a criminal record or prior convictions. If the landlord turns up a crime—even a misdemeanor—he or she could deem you a risk to the property, in which case they may deny your application.

Keep in mind; landlords don’t categorically reject renters with criminal records, but instead use the type, severity, and recency of the offense to determine whether applicants could jeopardize other tenants’ safety.

Additionally, the landlord will likely comb through an online registry of sex offenders to see whether your name shows up.

Do a background check on your future apartment, too

Screen your next apartment for the amenities you want and the rent you can afford. And if you’re not onboard with a background check, find an apartment with relaxed background and credit check policies, too. Use ApartmentSearch to discover apartments for rent in your city.