Your Prior Rental History

How Free are the Online “Free” Rental History Reports?

Publish Date:
How Free are the Online “Free” Rental History Reports?

Open up a new browser window and do a quick search for “free rental history report” or “rental history report free.”

Now, what did you find? Probably nothing that was quite what you were looking for. The main reason being that there isn’t a free rental history report. It just doesn’t exist. Why? Because rental history reports are a combination of up to 10 different data sources.

In fact, the closest thing you likely came across as it pertains to a free rental history check was the opportunity to have your credit score checked. There are a bevy of online sites that offer that complimentary service, but usually only once per year. And while a credit score will unquestionably include information on payments made to past tenants, it’s not really a true background check, at least in how it portrays you as a tenant. A true background check on rental history can really only be attained by paying for and acquiring a rental history report.

So while you’ll likely be able to attain a free credit check, it’s important to know that a credit report and your rental history report are not the same. Both serve somewhat similar purposes.

For instance, a credit report helps a lender to determine whether or not you’re worthy of a loan, while a rental history report helps a landlord determine whether or not you’re a reliable tenant. Here’s a look at some of the key information that a rental history check provides:

  • Eviction records: If you’re shopping around for a new apartment, any would-be landlord is obviously going to want to know if you’ve ever been evicted from one in the past. Potential landlords will also want to know if there’s any outstanding debt tied to your name, as it helps them to evaluate how much of a risk you are to lease to.
  • Criminal history: Landlords don’t want any trouble at their apartment complexes, not to mention alarming other residents with constant police activity. That’s why criminal history is included in a rental history report, so a landlord can judge whether the date and severity of any past crime would present a potential tenant issue.
  • Financial issues: The likes of tax liens and bankruptcies will also appear on a rental history report. This is essential information to a landlord, as it helps them to judge whether or not you can be trusted to pay rent in full and on time.

It should go without saying that the aforementioned are all things that you should be checking in on in regards to a rental history report, especially if you’re in the market to rent and haven’t checked your report in a while. Keep in mind that it’s estimated that four out of every five people have some sort of error on their credit report, so errors are certainly likely – and common – on something like a rental history report as well.

What’s important to know, however, is that it is possible to dispute erroneous items on your rental history report and have any inaccuracies resolved, thereby making yourself a stronger renter. It’s just the matter of knowing what to correct that is important – and you’ll never know if there are any inaccuracies if you don’t check in on your rental history.

Say, for example, that you’ve checked your rental history report and it’s not quite as glamorous as you’d like it to be – to the point where your history might jeopardize your next apartment lease. There are ways to clean up your report. Start by getting in touch with your previous landlords and seeing if there’s any way you can settle past issues. For example, if late or missed payments appear on your rental history report, you may be able to contact the landlord and ask them to remove the item from your report should you make an additional rent payment.

You’d be surprised at how willing many landlords are to work with you in this regard, as it’s normally a win-win situation for both parties involved. Evictions and liens are much more difficult to amicably resolve, but the experts agree that it’s usually best to start paying down any owed debt immediately in these cases.

Negative marks on a rental history report are never something that an individual welcomes, and they’re things that certainly don’t look good if you’re in the market for a new apartment lease, but you’ll never know exactly what your situation is if you aren’t checking your rental history report.

In noting all of this, don’t be fooled by the promise of a “free” online rental history report because all you’ll likely be getting is your credit report. And as you can see from reading this article, your credit report and your rental history report are not the same thing.