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What’s On a Rental History Report?

By Ashley Sutphin

A rental history report is something that a landlord or property manager will rely on pretty heavily to judge an applicant’s performance as a tenant in the past. If you have a positive rental history, you will be much more likely to secure a home, especially in a competitive market.

Rental history reports are documents that a reporting agency compiles, which are a comprehensive look into your rental history. They could include information about evictions, past landlords, debts, addresses where you’ve lived, and other information relevant to you as a renter.

There are a lot of reporting agencies that provide screenings for landlords.

A rental history report isn’t the same as a credit report, but it’s pretty likely a landlord will use both to screen you.

Specific Information That’s On Your Rental History Report

While it can vary depending on the company and the renter, the information that’s most likely to show up on a rent history report includes:

  • A detailed list of all the places where you’ve rented (your past addresses)
  • Contact information for the property manager or landlord in charge of each property during the time you lived there.
  • Dates you lived in each of your rentals.
  • How much you paid in rent everywhere you lived.
  • Late rent payments.
  • Evictions
  • Broken leases.
  • Any major problems that occurred when you were renting.
  • Recommendations, whether positive or negative, from past landlords.

So, where does this information come from?

It depends. Private consumer reporting companies put together some rental reports, and they’ll get the information from various services.

A lot of companies like these exist, but just a few are officially documented with the Consumer Finance Protection Board.

Some landlords will opt to check into your rental history on their own. They might contact your previous landlords directly to ask about how you were as a tenant.

If you’ve never rented before, you don’t have a rental history, in which case a landlord will look at things like your credit report and pay stubs. They’ll probably also call references, and they might ask you to get a co-signor for your lease.

Does Every Landlord Check Your Rental History?

Nearly all landlords are probably going to check your rental history. Sometimes, this may be a pretty informal process. If you’re applying with a private landlord, they might ask for contact information for your past landlords.

If you’re thinking about renting from a property management company or large landlord, they’ll likely get a report from a screening company after you apply.

Check Your Report

Like your credit report, you don’t have to get a copy of your report of your rental history, but you should. There can be wrong information on them, leading you to get denied even though it’s a mistake.

You can get a copy of your rental history report for free under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

If you’re applying for rentals currently, or you will be soon, ask the potential landlords you’re hoping to rent from what company they use, and pull your report from that.

There can be different information reported between companies.

If you do see something wrong with your report, dispute it. You can talk to the company that provided the report, and they’ll want to see evidence to support what you’re telling them.

If there’s accurate but negative information, you might be able to speak to your past landlord and see if they’ll update it. If it’s a big problem, like an eviction, there’s not likely much you can do about this.

Finally, you should remember that lenders may also look at your report when you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. Lenders may contact some or all of your past landlords and are especially interested in how you paid your rent. If you were 30 days or more late more than a few times, it’s likely to impact your chances of getting a home loan.