When you apply to rent a home, one of the most important things property managers will look at is your credit history. Property managers want to see that you make regular payments on debts, loans, or credit cards you have; and they may not approve your application if you have several of accounts in collections.
To find out what a property manager will see when they run your credit, you can check your credit report for FREE online.
Credit Karma (www.creditkarma.com) is a free and easy way to check your credit. You create an account so you can sign-in and check your credit any time without affecting your score.
1. Go to www.creditkarma.com.
2. Click on "See My Scores."
3. Create a free account with your email address and a secure password.
4. Enter your information (date of birth, social security number, address, etc.).
5. Answer each question to verify your identity.
Annual Credit Report
You can also use Annual Credit Report (www.annualcreditreport.com) to get a copy of your credit report. You can request one free copy from each of the three credit bureaus every year. You won't be able to see your credit score, but you will be able to see any derogatory or adverse items on your credit, such as accounts in collections.
If you have any trouble accessing your credit report online, you can mail in a request using this form:
Credit Karma will show you an estimate of your FICO credit score. This is helpful information to know, since many properties will require a minimum credit score to approve your application.
Your score will range from 300-850. Your score may be affected by:
1. Number of credit accounts
2. Length of time you have used any type of credit
3. Regular credit card payments
4. Credit card balance
5. Number of account that have gone to collections
Find out more about what is impacting your credit score, to do that you can click on "Credit Factors." To see more details about your credit history and accounts, you can click on "Credit Report." This is a great place to get the contact information for any creditors and collection agencies that you may need to contact to pay off your debts.
(300 to mid-600s)
You may not be able to get approved for every home that you are interested in. It will be helpful to know what factors are lowering your credit score. If you are able to pay off accounts in collections or dispute any errors on your credit report, your score will improve. When you apply to rent a home, you should let the property manager know about your credit history and advocate for why you should be a reliable tenant.
Fair to Good
(mid-600s to mid-700s)
You are more likely to get approved for a rental home, but you should still find out the specific screening requirements for the properties you are applying to so that you can make sure you have the best chance of being approved.
Very Good to Excellent
You likely won't have any problem getting approved for a rental home based on your credit. Property Managers and properties look at your credit in addition to other factors, like your rental history, so it is possible that your application could be denied even with good credit. Practice explaining any other barriers you have, such as a past eviction to increase your chances of being approved.
Fixing Credit Errors
If you see an error on your credit report, there are two ways to dispute the incorrect information.
Often, you can dispute items on your credit report through Credit Karma.
1. Log on to www.creditkarma.com.
2. Click on the account that is showing incorrect information. You will see a button that says, "Dispute an Error."
3. Complete the form and click "Submit Your Dispute Request" button. Your dispute will be reviewed within 30 days.
You can also submit a dispute through each of the three credit bureaus:
You can mail a letter to the credit bureau (TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian) that is reporting the incorrect information to dispute the error. Use this sample letter to help:
[Your Address, City, State, Zip Code]
[Name of Company]
[Credit Bureau Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]
To Whom It May Concern:
I recently obtained a copy of my credit report from your agency and found the following item(s) to be in error:
Item 1: I dispute [ABC credit card] account number . This account has been paid in full.
Item 2: [List account information]. [Explain what should be corrected].
I am requesting that the item be [removed, updated, or other suggested change] to correct the information. Enclosed are copies of [use this statement if you have bank statements, cancelled checks, or other documentation] supporting my position.
Please investigate this/these matter(s) and [delete or correct] the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.
Enclosures: [List the documents you are enclosing. If none, do not include this section].
- Making payments on time every month will help improve your score.
- Keeping your credit card balance at about 30% or less of your credit limit can also boost your score.
- Open a secured credit card can help you build credit, if you are not currently using credit products.
- Having trouble making your student loan payments? Apply for an income-based payment plan or loan deferment to lower or pause your payments. Learn more here: www.studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/deferment-forbearance.
FICO education: www.myfico.com/credit-education
Ask Experian: www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/category/credit-advice/improve-credit
Improving your score: www.debt.org/credit/improving-your-score