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Steps you can take if you are asked for credit reference to rent

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Mark Cappel
UpdatedSep 28, 2007

I need a credit reference to rent a house, is my credit score bad?

I need a credit reference to rent a house, is my credit score bad?

I cannot really answer the question based on the information provided. But, I can tell you landlords often use consumer reports to help them evaluate rental applications. These reports include:

• A credit report from a credit bureau, such as Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax or an affiliate company;

• A report from a tenant-screening service that describes the applicant's rental history based on reports from previous landlords or housing court records;

• A report from a tenant-screening service that describes the applicant's rental history, and also includes a credit report the service got from a credit bureau;

• A report from a tenant-screening service that is limited to a credit report the service got from a credit bureau; and

• A report from a reference-checking service that contacts previous landlords or other parties listed on the rental application on behalf of the rental property owner.

Therefore, you being asked for a credit reference could be for reasons other than a bad credit score. While we are on the subject of credit, let me give you some more information on the same. Your credit rating is calculated based on several variables, including: your payment history (do you have any late payments, charge-offs, etc.), the amount and type of debt that you owe, if you have maxed out any of your trade lines, and then several other secondary factors like the length of your credit history and how many recent inquiries have been made to look at your credit history. Paying off delinquent or maxed out trade-lines will almost always help your credit score.

There are five key factors that go into calculating your credit score, with certain items carrying more weight than others. These factors are as follows:

1) Payment history, which counts for approximately 35% of your score, is the most heavily weighted factor used in calculating your credit score. Consistently paying your bills on time has a positive influence on your score, while late or missed payments will hurt you in this area. If you have delinquent payments, the older the delinquency the less the negative impact on your score will be. Collection accounts and bankruptcy filings are also taken into consideration when analyzing your payment history.

2) Total debt and total available credit, which counts for about 30%. This section looks at how much debt you have compared to the total available credit on your accounts. If all of your accounts are maxed out, you will be considered a poor credit risk, because it appears that you are struggling to pay off the debt you have already incurred. If your account balances are relatively low compared to your available credit, this part of the risk analysis should help your overall credit score. The score calculation also looks at these two factors independently. Having too much available credit, whether you have used it or not, could hurt your credit score, as statistical studies have shown that people with excessive amounts of available credit are a higher credit risk. Unfortunately, the bureaus do not define exactly what they consider excessive, so best tip is to use credit conservatively and to keep your debt to credit limit ratio low.

3) Length of positive credit history, which counts for about 15%. The longer you maintain accounts in good standing, the better your score will be. This shows that you are able to make a long-term commitment to a creditor and are consistently responsible about making your payments.

4) Mix of types of credit, which counts for approximately 10%. Having several different types of credit, such a credit cards, consumer loans, and secured debt, will have a positive influence on your credit score. Having too much of one type of credit can have a negative impact.

5) The number of new credit applications you have recently completed, which accounts for about 10% of your score. Applying for too much new credit in a short time period makes indicates that you could be credit risk, as you may be desperately trying to keep your head above water. The models make an exception for people who are shopping around for a loan, so if you are simply applying to see who can give you the best rate on a new loan, you need not worry too much about damaging your credit score.

If you have not done so already, I strongly suggest you obtain a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can request free copies of your reports at

Once you have received copies of your reports, you should carefully review them to make sure that all listings, especially the listings appearing in the "derogatory" category, belong to you and are being reported accurately. Credit reports are notoriously inaccurate, with consumers frequently finding listings of derogatory accounts that never belonged to them or that were paid off years ago. If you find any inaccurate listings, you should dispute them with the appropriate credit bureau. See the Federal Trade Commission document FTC Facts for Consumers: How to Dispute Credit Report Errors for more information.

Once you clear up your credit you should not have to face the same situation again in the future.

I hope the information provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.




fflorida bankruptcy records, Feb, 2010
Well, first of all i must personally thank the author of this articles. the reason is it has the power to explain the subject in a very simple and understanding language. thanks for sharing.
jjack, Mar, 2011
The information that these agencies usually carry include information relating to the credit history of the individual.
BBill, Sep, 2009
The dirty secret of credit reporting agencies is that their information is notoriously inaccurate. You have proof of this before your eyes. Take the right steps to dispute inaccurate entries in your credit report.
CCesar, Sep, 2009
Hi, my parents rented a home in California and had financial troubles and declared banktrupcy and when i applied to rent a home with my girlfriend it came up on my credit. I asked my parents about it and they didn't know how that happened cause they didn't use my name or anything to get the house and i never lived with them at that place either. So how can i solve this?