When you fill out a rental application and hand it to the landlord, she will use the information to check you out. She may even hire a tenant screening service to do the check. Either way, at some point she will get a copy of your credit report. It’s a good idea to know what a landlord can see on your credit report and how she evaluates your credit information.
The report will show your Social Security number, date of birth and current address. Previous addresses might be included if you have moved in the last few years. Another item is the last place you worked that a lender reported to the credit bureau. If you’ve recently changed jobs, let the landlord know in case your new employer isn’t listed on your credit report yet. Last, but not least, the landlord will see your credit score.
A landlord is always very interested in how well potential tenants pay their bills. To find out, he’ll look in the trade lines section of the report. Trade lines are summaries of each of your credit accounts. The landlord can see the name of the account, how much you owe, and if you've had late payments. All of this will tell the landlord what your debt load is and if you might have trouble paying your rent.
If you’ve declared bankruptcy or had a foreclosure, it’s going to be on your credit report and the landlord will see it. Such legal judgments worry landlords because they mean you may be more of a credit risk than your credit score and trade lines indicate. She’ll also see other events that are a matter of public record in your county or state, such as court judgments, liens, lawsuits and wage garnishments.
What Isn't Shown
Credit reports don’t show your rental history, but that doesn't mean you should relax if there's something you'd rather a landlord not know. Most credible landlords get that info from your current or past landlords. They'll find out if you did good things like paid the rent on time and honored the terms of the lease. They'll also find out if you did bad things like damaged the property and created disturbances. The landlord may also want to see some public records that aren't on the credit report. For example, a landlord may check public court records for criminal convictions, or to find out if a person is a registered sex offender.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.