What Does a Tenant Background Check Cover?

December 21st, 2009 by

Before renting an apartment, a tenant is generally required to sign permission for the potential landlord to do a tenant background check. While the source used for the check will vary depending on the landlord, the information gathered is essentially the same. In the most basic sense, a landlord is seeking a tenant whose background is free from evictions and an otherwise checkered rental history. While the ideal candidate is someone who’s lived responsibly in one location for several years and also boasts perfect credit, there are few people who fall into this category. Your chances for renting your ideal apartment may not be tarnished just because of a background check requirement, but you should know what it will cover in order to prepare yourself.

Rental History

A background check will reveal your past addresses of residence. It will also reveal your rental history. It will likely show if your were repeatedly late on rent payments in the past or if you’ve had an eviction. This is a very important part of the report that your potential landlord is likely to focus upon. If there are issues, try to address them with the rental company upon submitting the application. While you don’t have to write about it on the application, a verbal explanation to the landlord is going to increase your chances of getting the apartment. No landlord wants to think you’re an ideal tenant, then have a background check prove your story to be a fraud. Be up front and honest; that’s a strong sign of a good tenant.

Work History

Your work history is a vital part of the background check, It shows the possible landlord or rental agency exactly how you handle the responsibilities of a job It also reveals if you have a steady source of income. If you have been employed for years at a high salary with a good company, you may be able to overcome a lot of other negatives in your background check.

Criminal Past

A criminal background check is often done as part of a normal background check. It will show if you have been convicted of crimes in the past so be sure that you are honest about that up front. If you do have something in your past that you now regret, explain that on the application form; there’s usually a special place just for that. If a landlord hears it from you first and is able to hear your take on it, you are more likely to be offered the apartment.

Credit Check

A credit check is perhaps the most important part of the background check. It will show whether you are in good financial shape. It also reveals if you have honored debts in the past. Some landlords fear that, if you are late on bills, you just may be late on the rent. While a credit check is not the be all and end all of a background check, it’s sometimes the first thing a landlord checks.

The important thing to remember is to accentuated the positive things that you have to offer as a tenant, and be honest about the negative things in your past. A landlord is much more likely to work with someone who’s been honest and up front than someone who lies in hopes that a background check won’t actually be performed.

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