Does my credit score matter when I rent?
Will a Landlord Pull My Credit When I Rent?
Does my credit score matter when I am going to rent an apartment? This is a great question and many times it will determine whether you get a rental property or not. Many landlords or brokers will require a credit report from prospective tenants. They will look at your score and for any negative items on your report. If you are chronically late on payments that affect your credit score, your chances of getting a rental property with some landlords will be slim.
There are a few ways you can prepare for this or try to get around it:
If you have had a legitimate setback try to explain it before they pull your credit report. Ask you current landlord if they will give you a reference. If you always paid your rent on time they may overlook the credit report. You can also provide them with paystubs so they can verify you can pay the rent.
Another way around this is to have someone with good credit guarantee the lease. This will almost always work so if you have someone willing to do this for you, keep it in mind. Any person who guarantees a lease should be made aware that if you break the lease they can be responsible for any damages claimed by the landlord.
Finally, you can always offer the landlord a few more months’ rent as a security deposit. While most potential tenants do not have this much money it is another way to get around providing a credit report or having to provide a negative one.
The best way to avoid a bad credit report issue when you are trying to rent is to find a landlord that does not pull credit. There are still many that don’t. If you are using a broker most of the time they will be working with landlords who require a credit report and references so you may want to avoid this route. The landlords that do not pull credit are mostly small landlords that may only own one rental property. A good place to look for these is local newspapers and sites such as Craigslist. Many times it will say if they do a background check or not.
The best way to avoid this problem is to make sure you make payments (credit cards, car, student loans, and other installment loans) on time to avoid any negative reporting on your credit report. You should also check your credit every year to make sure there are no incorrect items that are hurting your credit score. You are entitled to one free credit report a year and you allowed to challenge any item you believe to be inaccurate by writing to the credit bureaus challenging the specific item in question. They have an obligation to confirm that the derogatory credit item is actually yours and if it is not they must remove it.