Rental History Report: What Is it & How to Check it for Free

May 20th 2024
A rental history report is a detailed record of your past rentals, including information about landlords, payment history, and any issues like evictions or property damage. Landlords use these reports to decide if you'll be a good tenant.

hash-markWhat Is A Rental History Report?

A rental history report is a report of where you’ve rented before, who the landlords are, their contact information, any evictions on record, any damage that you may have had, as well as the time you’ve spent renting.

The best way to describe it is that it’s a credit report for your rental history, and a way to ensure that you’ll be a good renter. This means that you’ll be able to see everything from how much rent you paid, to your payment record, to where you live, all filed into a single report. 

hash-markHow to Check Your Rental History

If you’re interested in checking your rental history report before submitting it to a prospective landlord, there are several routes you can take. The easiest is to use a paid service to access your report, but you can also check your rental history for free.

Accessing a Free Copy

You can get a free version of your rental history report thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Here's how:

  1. Identify Reporting Agencies: Start by finding the rental history reporting agencies that are covered under the FCRA. Some commonly used ones include Experian RentBureau, CoreLogic SafeRent, and TransUnion SmartMove.
  2. Request Your Report: You are entitled to one free rental history report per year from each of these agencies. Visit their websites and follow the instructions to request your report. You may need to provide personal information such as your full name, current and past addresses, and your Social Security number for verification purposes.
  3. Review the Report: Once you receive your report, review it carefully. Check for any errors or outdated information, and make note of any discrepancies that could negatively impact your rental application.
  4. Dispute Errors: If you find any incorrect information, contact the reporting agency in writing to dispute the errors. Provide any necessary documentation to support your claim, and keep copies of your correspondence for your records.

By following these steps, you can obtain and review your rental history report without spending any money.

Using a Service 

Several companies offer paid services to access your rental history report. Some of the best include CoreLogic and Tenant Data. Here’s how to use these services:

  1. Choose a Reputable Service: Research different companies that offer rental history reports. CoreLogic and Tenant Data are well-known and reputable options. Check reviews and ensure the service you choose is trustworthy and reliable.
  2. Sign Up and Pay: Visit the website of the service you’ve chosen and sign up for an account. You’ll need to pay a fee, which varies depending on the company and the level of detail provided in the report.
  3. Provide Necessary Information: You’ll need to provide personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, and current and previous addresses. This helps the service accurately locate your rental history.
  4. Receive and Review Your Report: Once you’ve completed the process, you’ll receive your rental history report. Review it thoroughly for accuracy. Paid services often provide more detailed reports, including credit checks, eviction history, and landlord references.
  5. Prepare for Landlord Questions: Use the detailed information in the report to prepare answers to any potential questions a landlord might have. Being proactive can help you address any concerns and present yourself as a reliable tenant. Using a paid service can be quicker and may provide more comprehensive information, making it easier to see how you look to landlords and prepare accordingly.

hash-markDo All Landlords Check Rental Reports?

While they are not exactly common, more landlords than ever before are now making a point to check rental history reports. This is because they’ve started to notice that credit reports do not paint the full picture when it comes to a renter’s behavior.

It’s possible to pay credit card bills on time despite not having a roof over your head. It’s possible to have a huge bank account and still be incredibly damaging to the property. A rental history report shows your landlord that you will pay on time and keep the property in decent shape. 

hash-markWhat If I Don’t Have Rental History?

If you don’t have a rental history, your report will be empty. However, your potential landlord may ask you to furnish a letter of employment, tax returns, pay stubs, or other documents to prove your income

Most landlords won’t see a lack of history as a reason to reject you. As long as you can make a decent case for yourself, you should be alright.

hash-markWhat If I Have a Poor Rental History?

Having a poor rental history can be a red flag for many landlords, but it isn’t always a dealbreaker. Most landlords will ask you about any issues in your rental history report before denying your application, so be prepared to explain any derogatory information on your rental history report.

If you have a good explanation, it might not be a problem. Even if you don’t, they may still accept you as a tenant if you’re willing to put up additional security. The main hiccup with derogatory marks on your rental history report is that they will make it take longer for you to get approved for the apartment, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. 

hash-markSome Of My Report’s Information Is Wrong! What Should I Do?

If you notice some erroneous information, even if it’s something along the lines of your rental payment amounts, you should dispute it. To do this, you can reach out to the reporting agency in writing and explain everything, and with hope, they’ll remove it.

Most of the time, a single dispute letter will be enough to enact change. Sometimes, it may take several attempts. Keep a record of your disputes, as well as any proof you have, to show that you’re on the up and up.

hash-markCan I Dispute Negative (But Correct) Information On My Rental History Report?

Yes, you can still find ways to get rid of negative information on your rental history report! However, to do this, you will have to try to reach out to your former landlord. Explain that you have seen what’s on the report, and ask what you need to do in order to better the situation. 

If you both contact the reporting agency, they will drop the information. If you can’t get your landlord to comply, you might be able to get the item expunged if you write to the reporting agency and explain the full details of the situation. If it’s through no fault of your own, you might have a chance.

hash-markRental History Reports Bottom Line

Knowing what's in your rental history report is crucial when searching for a new place to live. This report shows landlords your rental track record, including payments and any issues like evictions or property damage. You can check your report for free once a year or use a paid service for more detailed information.

Reviewing your report before landlords see it helps you fix any mistakes and prepare to answer questions. You'll also have time to gather any necessary supporting documents such as credit references, employer references, and payment history. By understanding your rental history, you can present yourself as a reliable tenant and improve your chances of getting the place you want.