How to Check Your Rental History Report

When you apply for an apartment, most landlords will examine a rental history report before approving or denying your application. This report documents where you lived previously, including addresses, dates, and contact information for previous landlords. It may include information regarding missed payments, damages, and evictions.

Several companies offer rental history reports. While the information they contain is typically similar, if not identical, there’s always a chance that one will have erroneous information. You may want to ask the landlord or property manager which rental history reporting agency they’ll use. That way, you can request a copy of your report from the same organization.

Otherwise, you may want to stick with one of the major companies. Those include:

In most cases, the process of requesting your report is simple. You’ll usually need to either fill out and submit a form or contact the agency by phone, depending on the company.

The procedure may change if you’re requesting a copy of a report after a landlord or property manager ran one. Often, if a report results in an adverse action, you have the right to view it for free. In those cases, you may need details about the landlord or property manager to get a report using that approach.

What Landlords Are Look For in a Rental History Report

When landlords or property managers check your rental history report, they’re typically looking for a few things. First, they want to see that you’ve successfully rented other properties. That shows you can handle the responsibility of paying rent and can give them peace of mind.

Second, they’re hoping not to find any adverse actions or notes. Most landlords and property managers prefer applicants without any missed payments, damage, or evictions on their records. However, some may be willing to overlook issues in those areas if enough time has passed.

Finally, the landlord or property manager wants to see how the rental history report relates to the results of other screening steps. Unless your rental history is particularly poor, that alone won’t typically cause a landlord or property manager to make a decision about your application. Instead, it’s just one of several factors.

In most cases, landlords and property managers will also look at your employment, income, background check, and credit report. By examining each of those areas, they can get a holistic view of you as an applicant. At times, an issue in one area may be offset by success in another, so keep that in mind along the way.

It’s important to note that a lack of a rental history doesn’t necessarily mean a landlord or property manager will automatically pass you over. In that case, they’ll simply use other screening techniques to assess you as a potential tenant, such as those outlined above. As a result, if you have reliable employment, a solid income, a clean background check, and a reasonable credit history, that may be enough to get a new place.

Improving Your Rental History Report

Generally, the best way to improve your rental report history is by paying rent on time, avoiding causing damage, and ensuring you aren’t evicted. Having longer relationships with landlords can also work in your favor, as it shows potential landlords that you are likely to stick around, making you seem like a sounder investment.

However, if you already have an issue on your rental history report, that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take to move things in the right direction. For example, be honest when you submit applications to new landlords and property managers, and offer something extra that may put their minds at ease. That could include a larger security deposit or multiple months’ rent upfront, making you less of a financial risk.

Once you’re in a place, focus on being the best possible tenant. By having a new, positive record on your rental history report, landlords and property managers will have an easier time overlooking an issue from the past. It can make a problem seem like an innocuous blip, particularly if you’re a model tenant after the misstep.

Finally, if you see an error on your rental history report, you’ll need to take action. Erroneous information could cause a landlord or property manager to deny you a rental, particularly if it’s negative. Since that’s the case, you’ll want to reach out to the reporting agency quickly to get the mistake corrected.

Correcting Errors on Your Rental History Report

Agencies that offer consumer-oriented reports – including rental histories – are generally required to have a formal process for disputing errors or contesting details. As with requesting reports, the steps you’ll need to take may vary by organization. However, what you need to do is typically clearly outlined in your report.

In a general sense, error disputes often need to be initiated in writing. In some cases, an online form is an option. If that isn’t available, then you’ll want to send the request via certified mile with a delivery receipt. That way, you know precisely when your error report reaches the company.

When you dispute the information, you’ll need to clearly state what you’re contesting and why. If possible, you’ll want to provide evidence supporting your position, as that can lead to a faster decision and increase your odds of getting inaccurate details removed.

Once a dispute is filed, the company has a limited amount of time to review your request and make a judgment. Typically, they’re required to complete the investigation within 30 days, though there are situations where the company may get 45 days to make a determination. But it’s pretty common to get answers quicker than that.

If the company needs more information, they’ll typically contact you to request it. That can extend the initial timeline for a decision, as they may be unable to move forward with the investigation until you respond to them. Since that’s the case, you’ll want to reply as quickly as possible. By doing so, you’ll keep the investigation moving forward, increasing the odds that a mistake won’t hurt your chances of landing a new rental.