What Is A Rental History Report, And Can I Check Mine For Free?

The PropertyClub Team
Sep 29th 2020
If you’ve come across a landlord that is asking about your rental history report, you might be wondering what that is. This guide will explain what’s in a rental history report and how to check yours for free.

If there’s one thing we’ve all heard about, it’s nightmare tenants. While the vast majority of renters never have an issue paying their bills on time or leaving the place in good condition, there are a handful of people out there who make renting a serious risk to landlords. Landlords are aware of this and are reasonably worried about renting to the wrong person.

As time marched by, so did improvements in tenant screening. That’s where credit scores, credit references, as well as employer references come into play. Now, there’s a new type of tenant check that involved checking your rental history. Here’s what to know about rental history reports.

What Is A Rental History Report?

A rental history report is exactly what it sounds like—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. 

Do 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. 

What If I Don’t Have Rental History?

Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you don’t have a rental history, your report will come clean. However, your potential landlord may ask you to furnish a letter of employment, tax returns, pay stubs, or other documents to prove that you have the 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.

What 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. 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. 

How Can I Check My Rental History Report For Free?

You can check your rental history report for free once a year, thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. To get your rental history, go online to find a list of rental history report providers. From there, you can reach out to the rental history report agency of your choice and ask them for a copy of the report. 

Some 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.

Can I Dispute Negative (But Correct) Information On My Rental History Report?

Believe it or not, 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.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a new apartment, you absolutely need to be aware of all the different reports and checks you could have. The newest (and possibly most thorough) of them is the rental history report—a fairly recent invention designed to give landlords the most accurate measure of your ability to be a good renter. 

Thanks to some new national laws, you now have the right to find out what’s on your rental history report. All you need to do is request a free copy of your rental report per the FCRA, and take a look at what your landlords had to say.