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Apartment Credit Checks

MyApartmentMap - Nov 10, 2010

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It seems that wherever you go, a routine credit check is necessary to secure you what you want. This ranges from big tag items like cars and homes to smaller asset items such as simple credit cards and car insurance. It used to be that apartment credit checks were uncommon for new renters to secure leased housing. Not so, anymore. With time, enough landlords were scammed out of multiple months’ rent; that it was decided that apartment credit checks would be practically a staple requirement for a rental agreement. From sterling to poor credit histories, here’s what you need to know if you are looking to rent a new apartment; and are not quite sure what the basics about apartment credit checks are:

• First, reconcile yourself with the fact that almost all of the apartments you are interested in, will require a full credit check.

• Get a copy of your most recent credit report that offer reports from at least 3 reporting agencies. This way, you won’t have any surprises, if you thought your score was a certain amount because you only looked at one reporting agency’s score. Look online, and most credit report agencies offer free reports. You’ll most likely, have to sign up for a service, but once you receive your credit report…remember to cancel immediately, so you don’t incur any fees.

• Sometimes, if the apartment is owned by a rental agency, they will require an apartment application. As a part of this application, there will be a credit report request. The purpose of the application is just to list references and gain a better understanding of who the landlord is renting to.

• After you have seen the apartment and decided that you would like to apply to live there, is typically the time when your prospective landlord will ask permission to run a credit check. • When asked for you credit information, you can either give them permission to run one (this might cost you a small amount, but not all landlords require the fee) or if you prefer, you can run your own full credit check (as suggested above), print out and submit a copy to the prospective landlord for review.

• After you have submitted your credit report or permission for them to do so, is also when the landlord typically gives you the lease to review. It is wise to take home a copy and read over carefully so there are no surprises as far as your rights, their rights, etc etc.

• If you have never seen a credit report, basically, it lists all of the credit companies that you have received loans with in the past and present; up to seven years. Examples of these are: credit cards, car loans, student loans, and any other bills you have incurred that have not been paid. Not all companies report your deficiencies to the credit bureau, but know that most might.

• Once the landlord has reviewed your credit history, they most likely will have some questions if you have inconsistencies and/or a lower than average score. Be prepared with explanations of what happened to mar your report, and this includes being honest. There are landlords and lenders out there that believe less than perfect credit customers are human and made some mistakes. If this is the case in your situation, prove this to them and show them you have turned a new leaf.

• Whether you have good credit or bad, it is ultimately your prospective landlord’s decision after reviewing your credit report. If you have less than great credit, it would be wise to submit any other documents, references, previous landlord statements, etc to your favor that might shed a better light on you as a rental candidate.