When you apply to rent an apartment, the landlord will perform a background check which reveals things like your credit score, criminal record, and your rental history.
You may not be aware of it, but every tenant has a rental history that is documented in a report or record. These records contain information about former evictions, broken leases, and even late rent payments. Needless to say, having any of these elements show up on your report when you want to rent can be a bit of a problem!
We all make mistakes, and you certainly don’t want a single late payment from a previous rental to stand in the way of getting approved for an apartment to rent.
So, to help you fix your rental history, we investigate what’s included in these reports, how to check records for errors, and the steps you can take to remedy your past so that it no longer affects your rental future.
What is a Rental History Record?
The rental history record or report provides landlords with a detailed history of your time as a tenant which includes information such as late rent payments and evictions.
When you apply for an apartment to rent, landlords have the authority to look into your background to learn more about your behaviors and responsibilities as a renter. They assess your credit, your history as a tenant, and whether there are any collections against you.
Landlords may also schedule an appointment to interview you before deciding on the approval of an application. For these reasons, it is important to learn what a rental report is and whether there are any errors that should be disputed. You don’t want to be interviewed by a potential landlord and feel shocked or unprepared by the information that is presented to you.
When you know what’s in your report, you can take steps to clear it, or you can prepare for an interview with the landlord to explain your circumstances and your current position. The landlord will certainly appreciate your honesty and the time you took to clarify the information in the rental history.
What is Shown in a Rental History Report?
As these reports provide a breakdown of your past rentals, it includes the following information:
Physical addresses of your previous rentals
The timeline or dates of tenancy, how long you lived in a specific location
How much you pay in monthly rent
Problems including evictions, late rent payments, and even a broken lease will reflect on the report
Along with the details of your past tenancy, the report will also reveal the recommendations provided by the former landlord. If you’re a good tenant, then you’ll have a positive recommendation but if you’ve left the apartment in disarray, failed to pay rent on time, or broke the lease, then a negative recommendation will remain on the report.
How Long Does an Eviction Stay on Your Report?
Evictions are not pleasant situations but sometimes, for whatever reason, you find yourself receiving a notice from the landlord to move out of the property.
Evictions can occur because of failure to pay rent, ongoing noise complaints, and a violation of the rental lease agreement but when it comes to moving on and renting a new place, how long will an eviction remain on your rental history record?
Evictions will stay on your record for 7 years.
How is a Rental Report Created?
Most rental reports are produced by a consumer reporting company that will research individual information from credit reports and background checks. The company should always be enlisted with the Consumer Finance Protection Board to ensure that personal information is handled confidentially.
Landlords will conduct their own checks into rental history when screening tenants. They can find your credit history and any criminal charges through background checks. They can also contact a former landlord to ask about your previous tenancy.
How Do Landlords Vet First Time Renters?
First-time renters don’t have a rental history, so landlords use other methods to determine whether you’d be a reliable tenant. They will examine your credit history, your monthly income, and they may ask for references from an employer.
Checking Your Rental History Report
You aren’t required to get a copy of your rental report when you apply to rent an apartment but checking it can help you spot errors that would otherwise compromise your application.
Fortunately, there are many tools available to help you get a free report. You can visit online agencies that provide a breakdown of your rent payment history including rent still owed on a former lease.
These reports should be assessed every 12 months to ensure that the details are accurate and updated.
How to Examine Your Report
Looking at the rental history report helps you see what a potential landlord will be investigating prior to renting. You want to know if there are any errors and to have these reported and cleared prior to applying for an apartment or home to rent.
The first step is to request the report from the appropriate agency. Sometimes, you can call the prospective landlord to ask which agency they use to retrieve these records. This will produce the exact report that the landlord will examine in your case.
If you notice an error on the report, you can contact the agency telephonically or by email. Some agencies have an online submission form you can complete with details concerning the inaccuracy. Remember that something as simple as the incorrect date on a payment could create an impression of late rent payments. You should provide the agency or company with documentation to dispute the error.
Credit Reports and Rent Payments
For those of you looking for information on your past rent payments that you can’t find in a rental report, you might find it in your credit report. Skipped rental payments and collections will be recorded in your credit report.
Keeping up with rent payments is the best thing you can do to maintain a healthy credit report and credit score. Landlords like to see that you can keep up with the monthly rent and that you don't have multiple late payments or outstanding rent.
Can You Hide Your Rental History?
No, you cannot hide your rental history. Because it is based on information retrieved from multiple sources such as a background check and credit report, it is virtually impossible to hide information that has been reported by a former landlord or property management and financial agency.
If you are disputing the information on your rental history, then you can contact the agency responsible for generating the report with your own proof, to have the inaccuracy removed.
How to Create a Positive Rental History?
It can be difficult to clear past rental difficulties that are true and appear on your report. In a situation such as rent owed or a hole in the drywall that you didn’t pay to repair, you can contact the former landlord to negotiate a settlement. You can also get them to remove the “judgment” once you have paid the debt.
If you are looking at an eviction, then you won’t be able to get this cleared.
Creating a positive rental history is about starting from scratch. If past evictions and money matters are preventing you from renting and rebuilding your rental record, then second chance apartments offer an alternative rental solution. These types of apartments specialize in assisting renters with former evictions for example and won’t dismiss an application to rent solely based on this information.
If you have experienced a positive tenancy in the past and you don’t have a recommendation from that particular landlord, you should contact them and ask to have them vouch for you as a renter. If you have negative information on the report, adding positive recommendations from an independent party can create powerful impressions.
Where you have an eviction or bad rental history, include a cover letter with your application to rent. Explain your personal circumstances and why things happened the way they did at that specific time. The landlord can be a reasonable person and may appreciate the effort you took to clarify a past discrepancy.
Add reliable references to your application. If you have a landlord on your report who's given a bad recommendation about an eviction, you could have a reference from an employer or friends to vouch for your character. Sometimes one or two really good references can change the mind of a landlord who is looking at one negative recommendation.
Another step that you can take to improve the chances of getting the apartment that you want to rent is to add a co-signer in case of financial difficulties. A co-signer with a good debt management history takes on the financial responsibility of rent should you default on the payments. It is a major responsibility on behalf of the co-signer but has become a valuable way for renters and potential home buyers to secure their applications.
Renting Made Easy
Provided you have a full-time job and you can afford the security deposit and monthly rent, then you should be able to find an apartment to rent.
Take the time to get a copy of your rental report if you've been a less than stellar tenant so you know what the future landlord will assess when considering your application. Any errors should be disputed and clear if false.
If you have an eviction on your rental history, consider second chance apartments that specialize in assisting potential tenants with valuable and affordable homes to rent. There are always means and ways of finding a rental to suit your lifestyle and your pocket despite difficulties in your past.