How can tenants protect themselves and prepare for background checks as they apply to new apartments?

06/02/2021
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With the end of the eviction moratorium, tenants need to gear up for background checks

Prepare yourself for background checks when you prepare to submit a tenant application.

As the eviction moratorium comes to an end in June 2021, many people will soon be on the hunt for new apartments.

When it comes to applying for new accomodations, applicants should expect landlords to require a background check as a crucial part of the tenant screening process. This post details how prospective tenants can protect and ready themselves for background checks.

Let’s dive in.

1. Know what the landlord is concerned about.

When lacing yourself up for a landlord’s background check, you’ll need to acquaint yourself with the details the landlord might be looking for.

Some of this information includes your creditworthiness, criminal history, education history, employment history, eviction history, etc. When assembled and boiled down, these details give the prospective landlord insight into the kind of potential tenant they can expect from you.

Keeping abreast of this information can save you from any unpleasant surprises.

2. Be sure your credit report is in order.

Since your landlord is concerned about your creditworthiness, it only makes sense to expect that they’ll inquire into it. The problem lies in the fact that credit reporting errors are a reality.

Therefore, it behooves you to inspect your credit report regularly to make sure there aren’t any such mistakes. Errors in your credit report can tank your credit score, which can compromise your chances of getting your tenancy approved—not a gamble you want to take.

If you find any errors in your credit report, whether it’s unauthorized expenses, strange accounts opened in your name, or outstanding debts from unknown sources, swing into action instantly. You can dispute credit reporting errors, and a successful disputing process will restore your credit health.

Each of the national credit reporting bureaus are mandated to provide one free credit report to consumers annually—that’s three free reports per year, from three different sources. However, due to the nature of the times, consumers can now obtain free credit reports multiple times in a year from Annual Credit Report

3. Provide complete and accurate details.

The background check process demands that you provide your information to the landlord, so your details need to be accurate. This is because if your information contains mistakes, those mistakes might lead them to match with the wrong person.

What does that mean?

Your prospective landlord could end up conducting a thorough background check on someone else in your place. You might end up getting denied because the other person could have a poor credit report and a terrible history. Even if the person has good records, the landlord might get suspicious when your face and other physical features don’t match what the report says.

Also, if you have a criminal record, be sure to provide all the necessary documentation to prove that the law ran its full course. Notably, in some states, criminal records are not sufficient grounds for a landlord to deny tenancy. 

4. Know your rights.

Knowing your rights as an applicant is crucial during a background check.

After conducting a background check on you, the landlord can either decide to approve your application or deny it. If they deny it, that’s when your rights are triggered.

The landlord is obligated to give you oral, written, or electronic notice. This notice must provide the name and contact details of the company that provided the background check report. The notice must also make it clear that you have the right to dispute and rectify erroneous information, and obtain a free copy of the report if you request it within 60 days of the landlord’s decision.

Additionally, you’re protected from discrimination. Thanks to the Fair Housing Act, the FCRA, and the Dodd-Frank Act, as an applicant you can’t be denied tenancy based on your race, ethnicity, gender, faith, sexual orientation, and in some cases, your criminal record. If the landlord denies your application due to any of these factors, you can initiate an action against them for discrimination.
Are you looking to move into a new apartment? Are credit reporting errors getting in your way? Have you been a victim of discrimination by a landlord? Reach out to us. Our team of experts will do the work so you don’t have to.


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