Housing Credit Checks

Updated on October 26, 2010
L.B. asks from Fremont, CA
12 answers

Hello out there,

I am looking for an apartment and I found one that I have high hopes for. The landlord is going to run a credit check and I guess that will determine whether we get it or not. What I am curious to know is, what will they base their decision on and what kind of report will they see? I have pretty good credit, never been late on payments, no bankruptcy, but I do have high balances on my credit cards. And if I am the head applicant, will they take into consideration the co-applicants information as well? Any information would be helpful. Thanks!

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answers from San Francisco on

You are allowed to get one free credit report per [email protected]____.com ...nothing to buy. It's the real deal.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Since you do not know what their "criteria" is, it is a crapshoot what they will consider unacceptable. That being said, it is very likely you will be fine. Most landlords are looking for prior evictions and whether or not you are currently being garnished. Some landlords are only ordering very abbreviated reports and basically are just getting scores.

Like I said, I really wouldn't worry about it - I've seen lots of folks who have even filed a recent bankruptcy pass a landlord/housing credit check :)

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answers from Fresno on

I think you will be fine. It's not like you have to have 850 credit in order to rent an apartment. As long as you have a history of paying what you owe, the Landlord will be fine with your credit. I have a friend who recently had her home foreclosed upon and declared bankruptcy (due to a very ugly divorce) and even so, she was able to find a nice place to rent.

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answers from San Francisco on

My hubby and I own several rental properties. If you would like to know what they will see, you should order your own credit report from the three major agencies. I quick internet search will tell you how. The other benefit of getting your own copy is you can see if there are any mistakes on it and get them fixed, or at least let the landlord know they are mistakes and you are working to get them corrected. Basically, the reports show how many credit cards, loans, etc. you have. What your balances are currently, what is the highest they have ever been, and your payment history (late, on-time). It also shows old credit that is currently paid off and whether you paid on time for those.

We look at over-all debt vs income. We generally want to know if someone is living within their means and not barely making the minimums. We also look at rental history. How long have they lived in their last place? Why did they leave? Employment history is also important. Have they been in the same job for a while? Or at least the same field. We look at all applicants that will be living in the house. We also meet personally with each person/couple/family. This tells us a lot. Sometimes we don't pick the person that is traditionally the 'most qualified'. We've been known to pick the person that would benefit the most from a nice place to rent at a good price. That is probably just us though!

I hope this helps!



answers from San Francisco on

You are entitled to one free credit report a year...google it and get one from each one of the credit agencies so you can see it for yourself. Goodluck!



answers from San Francisco on

My husband & I own a rental property & I'm the one who looks thru their credit report & calls their references. As far as what I look for as 'red flags' on the credit report: 1) amount of times they've paid late on a debt, 2) if its had to go to collection, 3) if the card has bee closed by creditor's choice, 4) bankruptcy & 5) if they've kept the balance for a long period of time & still haven't paid it off. I generally don't mind a large balance but I like to see that it's payed on regularly &/or paid off in a timely manner. I look for any problems w/utilities like late payments or had the service cut off. I call job references & ask if the person was genarally on time for week & able to finish their projects in a timely manner & if they got along well w/co-workers. I ask roommate/landlord references if they kept the place clean & left it in good shape, if they paid their bills on time, & if they got along along w/roommates & neighbors.



answers from Washington DC on

Think about the risks involved in renting to people you don't know. My dad is a landlord for several properties that he owns (mainly duplexes) and he checks credit to see if they are the kind of people to skip out on their obligations. He really doesn't like having to sell the stuff people leave behind to try to recover the rent they didn't pay before they skipped out.

So I don't think that credit card balances are going to be an issue for them. I'm pretty sure what they're looking for is any history of defaulting on debts.



answers from San Francisco on

Hello MS-Nguyen,
I think all the advice you have been given is wonderful and really covers every part of the landlords need as well as your obligations and responsibility. If you and 5 people the landlord didn't knkow about move into a place then there is going to be a real problem and believe me I have seen that happen.
So go back and ask so that you will know and just be as everyone said be honest.



answers from Denver on

What I look for in this order:
1. Eviction history....have you ever been evicted?
2. Criminal Background...ever been arrested? For what? How long ago?
3.Credit History...everyone has a late payment. What was it for? Medical doesn't bother me as much as skipping out on cable. -just with what I've seen someone who skips their cable bill is bad news, all tenants want their TV.
4. Job history/references...do you list a lawyer as a reference? Are you a lawyer? what kids of references do you have?

And yes, I get this all from your social security number, drivers license number and signature. GL!



answers from New York on

There are a lot of things that a landlord considers when deciding on who to rent to. Mostly is will you make good tenents (quiet, not destroy property, etc) and can you pay your rent on time. To make this determination, they use references, job/work experience, and credit ratings. If you have no late payments, that shows you pay your bills on time, and you should be fine.



answers from Indianapolis on

My husband is a really good source to ask any questions you may have about improving your credit. He used to own a non-profit Hud approved credit counseling agency and helped so many with their loan modifications, home buying, and credit problems. Currently he is a licensed mortgage broker as well as a credit repair agent for a company called Financial Education Services. You can simply call him or email him if you like about any questions you may have. He's really knowledgeable and super helpful and kind. He loves to help people :)

Here is his contact information:
[email protected]____.com

His name is AJ

Best of luck to you!



answers from San Francisco on

Often landlords want to see if you had any evictions or a history of late payments. Once, I applied for an apartment and I ended up getting it because of all the qualified applicants, my credit score was the highest. So sometimes your report can be used to break a tie, I guess. Good luck with the apartment!

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