Credit scoring indicates a person's level of credit worthiness. The most common scoring system is the FICO score, provided by a credit rating company formerly known as the Fair Issac Corporation, now known simply as FICO. The FICO scores range from 300 to 850, with 300 representing extremely bad credit and 850 the highest rating of credit. A landlord may check a person's credit score, and use the score as a factor in the approval or denial of a rental application.
Credit Score Explained
A credit score is a number calculated by entries on a person's credit report. Various items from a credit report factor into the score, including how much the person owes, payment history, and the types of credit the person uses. Positive entries raise a credit score, while negative entires, such as overdue or late payments, lower a score. There are three major credit reporting companies that keep track of credit records. A person's score may differ among the three major credit bureaus because of differences in the data in each bureau's report.
Credit Report Check
Landlords check a person's credit report as part of the tenant application process to judge the applicant's history as a tenant and a bill-payer. Credit reports sometimes show previous negative tenant behavior, such as court judgments from unpaid rent and evictions. If an applicant has a history of paying bills late, the landlord may view this as an indication that the person will also pay rent late, making the landlord hesitant to rent to that person.
Credit Scores and Renting
A landlord might request a potential tenant's credit report and credit score, or just one of the two items. The potential tenant usually has to sign a release for the landlord to check the credit report and score, as set by state's laws. For renting, a FICO score in the 700 range or above is considered acceptable in most areas, as scores 700 and above generally reflect good to excellent credit.
A landlord who has only a small number of apartments is less likely to check credit scores for potential renters than a larger management or brokerage firm. If a person's credit score isn't ideal, looking for an apartment owned by a small company may increase chances of success. If a landlord does require a credit check and the applicant's credit is not acceptable, it still might be possible to get the apartment by paying a higher security deposit, or having a co-signer with a good score on the lease.
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