How to Pass a Rental Credit Check When Renting?

How to Pass a Rental Credit Check

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The rental credit check process is conducted by landlords or property management companies to evaluate the financial stability and reliability of potential tenants in meeting their financial obligations promptly. Landlords use this check as a form of background verification to ensure the information provided in the rental application is accurate and trustworthy. Passing a rental credit check is important because it increases the chances of tenants renting the rental property they want. In this article, we’ll break down what is a rental credit check and how to pass a rental credit check in the rental application process.

Why Do Landlords and Property Management Companies Conduct Credit Checks?

The rental credit check process involves obtaining the applicant’s credit report and credit score to determine their rental qualifications. By evaluating an applicant’s credit history, landlords and property management companies can have valuable insights into their financial responsibility and payment behavior. This process not only helps to protect landlords’ financial interests but also promotes a responsible living environment for all tenants. Here are some benefits of conducting rental credit check:

  • Rental credit checks help landlords make informed decisions about which applicants are trustworthy to fulfill the lease terms, including paying rent on time and taking care of the rental property.
  • Credit check also reveals whether a tenant has a history of evictions, bankruptcies, or other financial problems, which are potential red flags for landlords.

What Information is Included on a Credit Check for Rental Applications?

A credit check is an important tenant screening tool for landlords and property management companies to decide whether to approve a tenant’s lease application. However, not all landlords look at the same information. This can vary based on the landlord’s preferences. While some landlords only verify a tenant’s identity and check their credit score, while others can scan for a number of red flags for them. Here are the major information landlords look at while conducting credit check of rental applicants:

  • Credit History
  • Public Records
  • Credit Score
  • Employment and Income Verification
  • Rental-related Information

Credit History: The applicant’s credit history shows a list of credit accounts, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages, along with their payment history. Even any late or missed payments are included. This helps landlords to identify that they made payments on time, preventing the owner’s financial loss.

Public Records: These records provide insight into an applicant’s financial history beyond their credit accounts. Bankruptcies, tax liens, and civil judgments are included, which are taken as indicators of past financial difficulties or legal issues.

Credit Score: As per Experian Data 2022, the average FICO® score in the U.S. is 714. Though a higher score indicates better creditworthiness, most landlords never expect quite higher scores of applicants to lease their properties.

Employment and Income Verification: Landlords want to confirm your current employment status and income to ensure you have a stable source of income to pay the rent. This can be done through pay stubs, employment verification letters, or direct contact with the employer.

Rental-related Information: This information enhances the rental prospects by influencing a landlord’s decision. Information like previous evictions, rental payment history, and any outstanding balances to prior landlords are included here.

Step By Step Guide To Follow For Passing A Rental Credit Check

Passing a rental credit check when renting is vital in securing your desired rental property. A low credit score can make it more challenging, and you should prepared well to pass this screening process. Presenting yourself as a responsible tenant dramatically increases the prospect of moving into a new place. Here are major processes to help you pass a rental credit check:

  • Check Credit Report and Score
  • Improve Credit Score
  • Prepare for the Rental Application
  • Provide Proof of Income
steps to follow for passing a rental credit check

1. Check Credit Report and Score: Checking your credit report and score is the step forward to see where you stand before applying for a rental application. Every individual has the right to collect a free copy of their credit report from credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Once you have a report, review it carefully and address any errors or issues immediately. This report is vital for increasing your chances of securing dreamt rentals. The higher credit score can give tenants leverage in negotiations. Though you have a low credit score, it doesn’t mean your application will be ignored unless you explain to the landlord with valid reasons.

2. Improve Credit Score: On-time payments reflect a tenant’s reliability, which is a significant factor in credit scores. If you have a low credit score when applying for a rental, you can improve your chances of approval by settling off all your outstanding debts and keeping your credit utilization low. Avoid any big purchases that could negatively impact your credit score. To minimize the impact of a bad credit score, set up automatic payments or reminders to ensure you never miss a due date. However, it takes time to improve your credit score, so starting early is worth it in the long run.

3. Prepare for the Rental Application: When you’re ready to apply for a rental, provide the landlord with your name, contact information, employment history, and income information. You may also need to provide references from previous landlords.

4. Provide Proof of Income: Income documentation shows financial stability that reassures landlords of your ability to cover rent. This can include pay stubs or an employment letter verifying your income. If you are self-employed, provide tax returns and bank statements to prove steady income.

How to Rent a Property If You Have a Low Credit Score?

While a low credit score can make it more challenging to rent a property, there are other ways to make it possible. Landlords view credit score as a potential risk, as it suggests a history of financial instability or late payments. You should remember that preparation and transparency are key to unlock your way, even when having a low credit score. Follow these strategies, and you’ll be well on your way to acing your rental credit check.

How to Rent a Property If You Have a Low Credit Score

Be Honest and Transparent: Rather than hiding, show you are self-aware about your credit score with potential landlords. When you are communicating with the landlord, act with professionalism and respect. Explain any negative marks on your credit report and the steps you are taking to improve your financial situation.

Offer a Higher Security Deposit: Landlords keep the rental applicants with low credit scores at a low priority. In this case, offering a larger security deposit can convince landlords to overlook a low credit score. This reduces their financial risks, making them more willing to approve your application.

Offer a Co-Signer: If your landlord is comfortable with this option, you can ask a financially stable friend or family member to co-sign the lease. The co-signer’s good credit can offset your lower score. This provides added assurance for the landlord and approves your application.

Provide References: Provide strong personal and professional references to vouch for your reliability and trustworthiness as a tenant. This can include previous landlords, employers, or colleagues that help in the landlord’s decision-making process.

Consider a Shorter Lease Term: Proposing a shorter lease term, such as six months, demonstrates your willingness to work with the landlord’s concerns while still providing you with a comfortable living arrangement. It is a compromise that can be mutually beneficial for both parties.

Tips For Maintaining a Credit Score To Pass A Rental Check

Passing a rental credit check is crucial when applying for a rental property so here are some tips you can take to improve your chances of passing a rental credit check:

Pay Your Bills On Time: Paying your bills on time is crucial to maintaining a healthy credit score. Any bills in your name, such as utility bills or credit card bills, should be paid in full and promptly. Late or missed payments can negatively impact your credit score and make you appear unreliable to potential landlords.

Limit Hard Credit Inquiries: When applying for new lines of credit, such as a mortgage or personal loan, a hard inquiry is made on your credit report. This type of inquiry can temporarily lower your credit score, and having too many hard inquiries can make you seem risky to landlords. Therefore, it’s advisable to limit the number of new credit accounts you open to prevent excessive hard questions.

Report Rental Payments to Credit Bureaus: If you’re currently renting and your landlord is not reporting your rental payment history to the credit bureaus, ask them to do so. Regular, on-time rental payments can help to boost your credit score, making you more appealing to future landlords.


Landlords use credit checks as one factor in their decision-making when evaluating potential tenants. If rental applicants get into it with the right approach, they can easily pass the rental credit check. It is also important to consider that landlords are not allowed to discriminate against applicants based on their credit scores. The screening process should comply with Oklahoma fair housing laws and treat all applicants equally. OKC Home Realty Services is here to help you navigate the process smoothly. We aim to secure the best rental options for both tenants and landlords. Get in touch today for hassle-free property management and a profitable rental experience.

How to Pass a Rental Credit Check: FAQs

Can a low credit score lead to rental rejection?

Yes, a low credit score may raise concerns for landlords as it suggests a history of financial difficulties.

What if I have no credit history at all?

In the absence of a credit history, providing proof of income and offering a co-signer can carry significant weight in the application process.

Is a background check different from a credit check?

Yes, while a credit check assesses your financial history, a background check examines your criminal history, rental history, and more.

Can I take steps to improve my credit score before applying for a rental?

Absolutely. Paying down debt, disputing inaccuracies, and maintaining a healthy credit utilization ratio can help boost your score.

Should I be upfront about my credit history with the landlord?

Being transparent about any potential issues in your credit history is advisable. It demonstrates honesty and can provide an opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances.

scott nachatilo


Scott Nachatilo is an investor, property manager and owner of OKC Home Realty Services – one of the best property management companies in Oklahoma City. His mission is to help landlords and real estate investors to manage their property in Oklahoma.