What Do Landlords See in a Rental History Report
When you're looking for a new place to rent, it's important to get your ducks in a row to ensure the application process is smooth. As a prospective tenant, you'll need to fill out a rental application, provide pay stubs and share a credit report and rental history report with your prospective property manager.
These are all fairly standard to-dos during a tenant screening process. Many landlords will request this information and review the tenant application to make sure they find a high-quality tenant to sign the lease agreement. After all, landlords want a good tenant to mitigate risk so they use tenant screening reports to help them make informed decisions.
As a renter, you can take control of the rental application process by reviewing your rental history report, ensuring that it has accurate information on it and correcting any mistakes proactively.
To help you, we've outlined everything you need to know about a rental report. You'll learn what a rental history report is, how property managers use the information in a rental report to make decisions and how to make yours stand out. We want you to land the rental property of your dreams, and a clean rental history report is the first step to signing that lease agreement.
What are rental history reports?
So, what is a rental history report? It's exactly what it sounds like — a history report that outlines your life as a renter. Rental history reports help paint a picture of a tenant's past behavior. It shows tenant data like previous addresses, how long you lived in a previous rental unit and how much you paid in rent.
It will also outline information like damages to the property, rent paid late or eviction history, if applicable. A rental history report may also include your previous landlord's contact information.
Understand how property managers use a credit report and a rental history report
In a hot rental market, landlords will sift through hundreds of rental applications and tenant application packages trying to find potential tenants who will be a good fit for their rental property. At the end of the day, small landlords and property management companies alike just want to find renters who will pay the rent on time, keep the rental property clean and in good condition and be reliable, easy-going neighbors.
A property management company or do-it-yourself landlords will find good tenants by analyzing a few things. They'll look at income insights, a credit report and rental history.
Often, landlords request to see things like pay stubs and employment history to understand how much money potential tenants make and if their income stream is steady. These income insights help landlords determine if a rental applicant can actually afford the cost of the rent each month.
If you've been saving money, it's worth sharing that information with the potential landlord as that information isn't necessarily available for most landlords to see.
Credit report insights
The three main credit bureaus like Experian, Equifax or TransUnion will run credit reports that highlight the credit history of a prospective tenant. A credit report shows things like your bill payment history, current debt and other relevant financial information. If you have a criminal background, this may also show up on your credit report insights.
A prospective landlord will look at a credit report and credit scores and use that information to decide if you're the right or wrong person to rent to. These screening reports are a way to understand a person's financial history using a standardized process.
Rental history report insights
Most landlords will use your rental history as part of the tenant screening process. It's a quick and easy way to see a tenant's rental history and look at the rental payment history and rental history check.
It can also be a way for landlords to catch discrepancies between your rental application and your rental history report. For example, if you put down that you've rented a single-family home for three years but your rental history report says two years, that could raise a red flag. The prospective landlord might reach out to your former landlord to confirm or, they could deny you immediately.
This example highlights why it's important to check your own rental history before submitting your rental application. Previous landlords might communicate errors but if they don't, you could lose a great rental property because your information didn't line up.
How to find your rental history report
Now that we've defined a rental history report and talked about how it's used during the tenant screening process, let's talk about how to get your rental history report yourself.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows consumers to get a free report to review. However, it's essential to ask your potential landlord which reporting agency they use as there are several companies that generate a tenant screening report. Landlords can choose which tenant screening service they prefer, as there are several online rental management tools that will pull a rental history.
Once you've received a copy of your rental history report, it's time to review it and update it, if need be.
How to screen your own rental history report
You can bet that a landlord will conduct a rental history check. So, it's smart to check your rental history yourself and address any inaccuracies upfront. Since you are entitled to a free rental history check, you should take advantage of it. Here are a few things prospective tenants can do to update their own rental history reports.
Check the dates
It may seem like a small detail, but it's important to get the dates right that shows how long you rented a place. Make sure the dates on your rental history report match the dates on prior lease agreements. Previous landlords can help you confirm this information.
Review the rental payments
Tenant reports can show if you had missed rental payments, how many and how often. If you had one late payment in 12 months but your rental history is showing three, you need to reach out to your previous landlords to address this information and get it corrected immediately. Or, if you lost the security deposit for damages inflicted on the apartment, you could talk to your previous landlord about it, reimburse them and ask them to remove this blight from your rental history report.
Address any complaints
From minor complaints to pending lawsuits, it's important to proactively address any issues immediately. A potential landlord won't want to rent to someone if their tenant's rental history report is sprinkled with negative complaints.
Fill in the gaps
If there is a period of time on your rental history report that is missing, you need to account for this. Let's say you moved in with your aunt and uncle for a year to save money — that's great! However, a year without rental history will just look like a hole in your record. Add a note about this so it's clear where you were during that year you weren't renting.
Check your rental history report before filling out your rental application
Rental history information shows your story as a renter and how you stack up as a prospective tenant. It's an easy way for property managers to see which rental properties you've lived at, what you've paid in rent and if you've had late rent payments or prior evictions.
To ensure you put your best foot forward when filling out rental applications, take some time to review your rental history report, check for accuracy, correct any mistakes and submit an application that will make you look like a higher-quality tenant compared to other applicants.