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Do They Check Your Credit When You Want to Rent a House?

by Amber Keefer, studioD

Although landlords generally check your credit when you go to rent a house, during tough economic times some see the need to be more flexible in their credit requirements. When competition for rental properties is up, good credit and a higher credit score can give you the edge over other applicants, reports MarketWatch. Your credit rating could make the difference in whether you can rent the house you want.

Credit Score

Your credit score is often a significant factor in whether your rental application gets approved. Conducting a credit check gives the landlord some sense of whether you are likely to pay your rent and pay it on time. A National Association of Realtors’ HouseLogic article notes that while landlords and management companies may require a credit score of 720 or better for rentals located in more affluent areas, requirements vary. Landlords who rent properties in low-income areas often have to accept a credit score as low as 620.

Additional Factors Landlords Consider

Primarily, when a landlord considers your rental application, he wants to know that you can pay the rent on time. Besides pulling your credit report, many landlords want information about your income, existing debts, employment history, previous rental history if you have one, and the length of time you’ve lived at prior addresses, points out the real estate search site Trulia. A prospective landlord may also look to see if your credit file shows a bankruptcy, liens or any judgments.

Back-Up Documentation

If your credit is less than ideal, prepare your own credit file when you go to put in a rental application. Include reputable references and information about your employment history to show you have a secure job and solid work history. If you can, get written references from your employer and last landlord. Take along your bank statements for the last four months to show you have money in the bank and to help verify your income and assets, says MSN Real Estate. Several months worth of pay stubs can help, too. Provide the prospective landlord with a letter pointing out any major credit problems and explaining why these problems will not prevent you from paying your rent.

What Else You Can Do

Additional options available to help you get your rent application approved include being honest about why your credit score is low. Mom-and-pop landlords often are more willing to listen to your personal story. Offer to rent on a trial period or from month to month rather than locking yourself into a long-term lease. A landlord may also be willing to rent to you if you put down a larger deposit to help cover the risk of any missed rent payments. An article for CBS News suggests paying the first three to six months of rent up-front if you can. Agreeing to have the rent payments automatically withdrawn from your checking account each month might be enough to persuade a prospective landlord, as well.

About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

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