What Your Rental Credit History Means For You

If you are looking for a place to live, your rental credit history can make the difference between being able to live in the place of your choice and having to simply take what you can get. Rental credit history includes information about payment history, rent amounts and even utility payment history.

Regional Credit Agencies

Very often, landlords and property managers do not use the services of large credit reporting agencies like Experian or Equifax. Instead, they use smaller regional credit agencies that primarily target property managers and the rental market. In many cases, these regional rental credit agencies only cover the local geographical area or several surrounding counties.

Online Rental Credit Agencies

Another option for many property managers is the use of an online rental credit reporting agency. Some property managers find that it is advantageous to use this kind of credit history search service because information is not limited to actual rental history. Also included is information about how many moves have occurred in recent years, employment history, driving history and other relevant information that can be used by those who are evaluating potential tenants.

Implications for Renters

If you are a renter and are looking for a place to live, understanding how rental credit history is used and what resources are available to potential landlords is extremely important. In many cases, tenants may not even realize the impact being late on their rent one time may have on their ability to rent in the future.

Other actions that may have a huge impact on rental credit history is if a rental lease is broken or abandoned before the term of the lease is up. Other information that may be reported include if a property manager has problems with a tenant paying their rent with checks that are returned, tenants who abandon their rental without paying the last month’s rent, subletting an apartment or rental without authorization and almost any other problem that might be associated with a problem tenant.

Countermeasures for Tenants

Because of the proliferation of online rental credit agencies and services, some tenants may find that the information that is reported can work against them or is spotty at best. When applying for a rental, you can ask the landlord or property manager what company they use for tenant screening and order a copy of your own credit report. If you are turned down for credit as a result of information provided by a specific credit agency, you are entitled to a free copy of the credit report. However, with so many credit rental agencies it can be difficult to clean up credit reports from every possible agency that a landlord might use for tenant screening.

Some landlords are willing to forego ordering their own credit report if you can provide a recent copy of a credit report on your own. Using this approach may allow you to present a credit report that you have already cleaned and updated.


A rental credit history can make all the difference in the quality of rental you are able to secure. While most property managers do not use large credit reporting agencies, they do use the services of smaller regional credit agencies or online credit reporting services that are specifically targeted for landlord needs.

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