Guide to Improve Your Credit Score
What is a Rental Credit Check?
When a landlord or property manager looks at a prospective renter's credit habits to determine if they want to lease their property to them or not, it is known as a rental credit check. This may include:
- Credit score
- Credit usage
- Credit bureau insights into the factors contributing to the credit score
- Account summaries
- Payment history, including whether payments have been missed
While reviewing, landlords look for information to determine whether you meet their screening criteria. Positive notes are consistent on-time payments, low debt-to-income ratios, and no delinquent accounts. However, negative remarks consist of the following:
- Late payments: If you repeatedly didn’t pay your rent, utility bills, or credit loans in the past, landlords may be afraid you won’t pay your rent on time each month.
- Significant debt load: If you have substantial debt that could affect your ability to pay rent, this could be a red flag to landlords. However, landlords will typically consider the nature of the debt. For instance, they see if it’s responsible debt, like student loans, or irresponsible debt, such as large credit card balances.
- Delinquent accounts in your rental history: If your previous landlord has reported your payment history to the credit bureau, this will show up on your credit report. So, if you owe your previous landlord a large sum of money, the new landlord will likely deny your application. In this case, it’s best to pay off the amount you owe before applying.
How to Pass a Credit Check
Following the steps below will increase your chances of passing a rental credit check.
1. Your Credit Score and Report
Checking your credit score before applying to an apartment can help you see where your score is currently. To do this, you can use iROOMit to get your credit report for a one-time fee. The credit report will show your credit score and what’s contributing to it. If your score is below 650, knowing the factors contributing to it can help you explain to the landlord what you’re doing to fix it.
If your credit score is low, that doesn’t necessarily mean your application won’t be accepted, especially if you talk to the landlord about it before applying.
2. Improve Your Credit Score
Building on your credit score before applying for a rental can increase your chances of being accepted.
- Catch up on past-due accounts: Pay off your debts and past-due accounts. This includes debt to your previous landlords and credit card debt.
- Don’t miss payments: Try to pay all your bills on time, even if it’s the minimal amount due. This ensures your payment history remains impeccable and shows prospective landlords that you have a history of managing payments responsibly.
- Apply for new accounts only when needed: Credit applications generally result in a hard inquiry being added to your credit report. While a single hard inquiry might not significantly impact your score, its effect can add up if you apply often. A conservative approach is to apply no more frequently than once every six months.
- Dispute credit report errors: Mistakes on your credit report could pull down your score. Disputing them can help you quickly improve your credit.
3. How to Apply for the Property
As a renter, you must fill out a rental application and allow the landlord to conduct a background check. This process can take anywhere from hours to days.
Gather all the necessary documentation so you can easily fill out the application. The documents you’ll likely need include the following:
- Paycheck stubs
- Proof of income
- Tax returns from last year
If you have an iROOMit profile as mentioned earlier, you can save time and costs by giving your rental information to the landlord through a shareable link.
Your profile can also contain information about your credit score, background, and eviction history, so you won’t have to pay an application fee for more than one rental property.