If you’ve ever applied for a car loan before, then you know that the process isn’t always quite as smooth as it’s often advertised. For example, the lender will run a credit check on you to make sure that you’re reliable and also have the financial means to adequately repay the loan over its duration.
Your credit score will also likely determine the interest rate that the lender will settle on ( i.e. higher scores often come with lower interest rates, while lower scores come with higher interest rates). But it’s worth noting that if your credit score is too low, and you’re deemed as an unreliable consumer, then the lender may choose to turn away your business and not approve the loan.
You’re checked out and measured based on your risk as a consumer for major loans like home mortgages and cars. And while leasing a new apartment may not have the same purchasing magnitude as the aforementioned examples, it goes without saying that any would-be landlord is going to want to assess your risk as a potential tenant the same way that a lender would if you were a consumer. Hence, the importance of a rental background check, which is becoming standard practice for landlords across the country.
So just what kind of information can a landlord discover about you from an apartment background check?
Here’s a look at the four main categories:
- Rental history: The ideal tenant is someone who has lived in the same apartment complex or same place for several years without incident. But often times, these types of tenants are few and far between. That’s one value of the renter background check – they help tell landlords a renter’s history. The rental history category will identify your past residences, as well as if you were ever late on a payment or if you’ve had an eviction. Remember, just as how a credit check helps a lender gauge your risk as a consumer, a rental history report helps a landlord gauge your risk as a tenant. Things like repeated late payments and a history of evictions can be troublesome for you as a renter.
- Work history: As we mentioned, an ideal renter is someone who has lived in the same place for several years without incident. The same can be said when it comes to your work history. The renter background check will identify your work history to help a landlord determine your reliability as a professional. For instance, they’ll first look to ensure that you’re working and have a reliable source of income to pay rent. But red flags may pop up if you’re constantly switching jobs or have large employment gaps.
- Criminal history: Landlords don’t want any negative attention drawn to their premises, which is why criminal history is incorporated as part of a background check. This part of the background report will identify if you’ve ever been convicted of any crimes, when they occurred and how severe they were.
- Credit check: Finally, there’s the all-important credit check, which helps a landlord determine whether or not you’re in good financial shape. Just as how your credit score helps determine what interest rate you’ll get for a loan – or if you’ll even be approved for a loan at all – a credit check from a landlord’s perspective will help them determine how financially trustworthy you are. For instance, the credit report will reveal if you have owed debts and/or have made late payments – all which can be red flags to landlords.
As we alluded to earlier, the perfect tenant is one who has had long-term employment at one company, one who has lived without issue at an apartment complex for several years, one who has no criminal history and one who has a good credit score. Unfortunately, finding perfect tenants is difficult – which is why the renter background report comes in so handy for landlords.
So just what exactly can you do if you’ve pulled your renter background report and believe you might be on the bubble for the next apartment lease you want to sign? Start by trying to have items removed. Contact former landlords and see if you can make an additional rent payment to have any late rent payment notifications removed, for example.
You can also enact credit repair strategies to improve your credit score. While some things you may not be able to have removed or altered when it comes to your renter background check, there are certain aspects of it that you can control – but you’ll never know where you stand if you don’t take the time and invest in checking your report ahead of time.