Rental history is one of the primary things that your landlord will look at when you fill out a rental application. Your rental history can affect you positively or negatively.
What is a Rental History?
A rental history is a record of your previous rental experiences (of importance to your landlords). Each time you apply to rent an apartment, your new landlord wants to know what happened when you rented apartments in the past. Understanding your past helps them to predict what kind of tenant you will be if they rent the apartment to you. Specific events provide this information such as:
- Bounced checks
- Late rental payments
- Breach of lease terms
- Complaints about you
- Damage to your apartment
- Eviction proceedings
What is the Landlord Looking For?
When you complete a rental application, the landlord is looking for a solid employment history, a good credit rating and a positive rental history. To determine this, they contact your current employer to verify your salary, run a credit check and contact former landlords to learn as much as they can about you.
Things That Hurt Your Rental History
A low FICO score (the credit score which shows positives and negatives in your credit history) will count against you. Your credit score goes down if you have unpaid housing debt, evictions, tax liens, repossessions or a personal bankruptcy during the two year period prior to applying to rent the apartment. Unpaid credit cards or bills will also negatively affect your score.
Having no revolving credit accounts for at least six months (to show your ability to pay bills consistently) can also be a problem. Sometimes, landlords will overlook this fact if everything else about you checks out.
How you acted as a tenant in your previous apartments, will weigh heavily in the landlord’s decision about renting to you. If your previous landlord tells your potential landlord you were a noisy tenant or didn’t pay rent on time, this can cause problems for you in the application process.
Eviction proceedings are a red flag to the landlord. From the landlord’s perspective, such proceedings show that a previous landlord had a major problem with you as a tenant. Unless you can demonstrate that the eviction judgment was in your favor, you may have trouble overcoming this negative event in your rental history.
What Helps Your Rental History?
Being a model tenant is the best thing you can do to ensure that you will always be able to rent an apartment of your choice. Pay your rent on time, follow the rules, be a considerate neighbor and take good care of the apartment you’re renting.
Outside of your life as a tenant, live within your means and pay your bills on time. Set a budget for your monthly expenses and monitor your progress. Establish a system of reminding yourself to pay your bills on time. And, be sure to have enough money in your checking account so that you don’t bounce checks to your landlord or any of your creditors.
Knowing what a landlord looks for when processing your application will help you to overcome any issues about your rental history that might arise.