Can Landlord Check Credit Score

A landlord can check your credit score to assess your financial stability and reliability as a potential tenant. They may use this information to evaluate your ability to pay rent on time and in full, and to determine if you have a history of responsible financial behavior. Checking a tenant’s credit score can also help the landlord make informed decisions about the amount of security deposit to require and whether or not to rent the property to you.

Landlord’s Legal Rights to Verify Credit History

In the United States, landlords have the legal right to check a prospective tenant’s credit score before renting out a property. This is because a credit score can provide valuable information about a tenant’s financial responsibility and ability to pay rent on time.

However, there are some restrictions on how landlords can use credit scores. For example, landlords cannot discriminate against tenants based on their credit score. This means that a landlord cannot refuse to rent to a tenant simply because they have a low credit score.

In general, landlords can use credit scores in the following ways:

  • To screen tenants and identify those who are most likely to pay rent on time.
  • To set rent prices.
  • To make decisions about security deposits.
  • To evict tenants who have not paid rent.

Avoiding Discrimination

Landlords must avoid discriminating against tenants based on their credit score. This means that landlords cannot:

  • Refuse to rent to a tenant simply because they have a low credit score.
  • Charge a higher rent to a tenant with a low credit score.
  • Require a larger security deposit from a tenant with a low credit score.
  • Evict a tenant simply because they have a low credit score.

If a landlord discriminates against a tenant based on their credit score, the landlord may be violating the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability.


Landlords have the legal right to check a prospective tenant’s credit score. However, landlords cannot discriminate against tenants based on their credit score. Landlords must use credit scores in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.

Permitted UseProhibited Use
Screening tenantsDiscrimination
Setting rent pricesCharging higher rent
Making decisions about security depositsRequiring larger security deposit
Evicting tenantsEviction

Factors Influencing Landlord’s Decision to Check Credit Score

A landlord’s decision to check a potential tenant’s credit score can be influenced by a variety of factors. Here are a few key considerations that might prompt a landlord to request this information:

Tenant Screening Process

Landlords often use a credit score as part of their tenant screening process to assess the applicant’s financial responsibility and reliability. A good credit score can indicate a history of paying bills on time, which may make a landlord more confident in the applicant’s ability to pay rent promptly and consistently.

Rental History

If a potential tenant has a history of previous rental agreements, the landlord may review their credit report to gain insights into their rental payment patterns. A history of timely rent payments and no evictions can positively influence the landlord’s decision in favor of the applicant.

Income Verification

A credit report can provide information about an applicant’s income and employment history. Landlords may use this information to assess the applicant’s ability to afford the rent and to comply with income requirements set for the rental property.

Credit Utilization and Debt Management

A credit score can reveal an individual’s credit utilization ratio, which is the percentage of available credit they are using. A high credit utilization ratio may indicate excessive debt or poor financial management, which could raise concerns for a landlord about the applicant’s ability to meet their rental obligations.

Bankruptcy or Foreclosure History

A credit report will show any history of bankruptcy or foreclosure proceedings. These events can significantly impact a credit score and may cause a landlord to be hesitant about renting to an applicant with such a history.

Local Laws and Regulations

In some locations, there may be laws or regulations that restrict the use of credit scores in tenant screening. Landlords should be aware of these regulations and ensure compliance to avoid potential legal issues.

Balancing Considerations

While credit scores can provide valuable information, landlords should also consider other factors when evaluating a potential tenant. These factors may include references from previous landlords, employment verification, and discussions with the applicant about their financial situation. Landlords should strive to make fair and non-discriminatory decisions based on all available information.

Factors Influencing Landlord’s Decision to Check Credit Score
FactorLandlord’s Considerations
Tenant Screening ProcessAssess financial responsibility and reliability
Rental HistoryReview payment patterns and rental agreements
Income VerificationAssess ability to afford rent and meet income requirements
Credit Utilization and Debt ManagementEvaluate excessive debt and financial management
Bankruptcy or Foreclosure HistoryConsider potential financial instability
Local Laws and RegulationsEnsure compliance with applicable laws and regulations
Balancing ConsiderationsConsider other factors and make fair, non-discriminatory decisions

Consequences of Bad Credit Score for Tenants

A bad credit score can have several negative consequences for tenants when renting an apartment or house. It can affect their ability to secure a rental property, the amount of security deposit required, and even the rental rate they may be charged.

Security Deposit

  • Landlords may require a larger security deposit from tenants with bad credit scores.
  • This is because they are seen as a higher risk and the landlord wants to protect themselves in case of any damages or unpaid rent.

Rental Rate

  • Tenants with bad credit scores may be charged a higher rental rate.
  • This is because landlords may view them as a risky investment and may want to compensate for the increased risk by charging a higher rent.

Rejection of Rental Application

  • In some cases, landlords may even reject a rental application altogether if the tenant has a bad credit score.
  • This is because they may be concerned that the tenant will not be able to pay the rent on time or may cause damage to the property.

Tips for Tenants with Bad Credit Score

If you have a bad credit score, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of renting an apartment or house:

  • Explain your bad credit score to the landlord. Be honest about why you have a bad credit score and show that you are taking steps to improve it. Provide any documentation you have that supports your explanation, such as proof of income, employment, or a letter from your previous landlord.
  • Offer a larger security deposit. This will help to reassure the landlord that you are a responsible tenant and that you are willing to take care of the property. Be prepared to pay a security deposit that is two or three months’ rent.
  • Find a co-signer. A co-signer is someone who agrees to be legally responsible for your rent payments if you are unable to pay. Having a co-signer with good credit can help to improve your chances of getting approved for a rental.
  • Look for a landlord who is willing to work with you. Some landlords are more willing to rent to tenants with bad credit scores than others. Be patient and persistent in your search for a landlord who is willing to give you a chance.
  • Credit Score RangeConsequences
    • Higher security deposit
    • Higher rental rate
    • Rejection of rental application
    • May require a larger security deposit
    • May be charged a higher rental rate
    • Typically no problems renting
    • May still need to provide a security deposit
    • Excellent credit score
    • Should have no problems renting
    • May be offered a lower security deposit and lower rental rate
    • Exceptional credit score
    • Should have no problems renting
    • May be offered the best security deposit and rental rate

    Tenant Rights During Credit Score Checks

    Landlords, in most states, have the right to run a credit check on prospective tenants. While this practice is widespread, it’s essential to ensure that it’s done legally, and tenants’ rights are protected. Let’s delve into the steps involved in a credit check, the rights tenants have, and how to safeguard their interests.

    Obtaining Credit Score: A Legal Requirement

    Generally, landlords must obtain written consent from the tenant before running a credit check.

    • A signed consent form gives the landlord permission to access the tenant’s consumer credit report.
    • The tenant should receive a copy of the signed form for their records.
    • Consent forms should be specific to each purpose, and a general authorization for all purposes is not permitted.

    The Tenant’s Right to a Copy of the Report

    After running a credit check, the landlord is legally bound to provide the tenant with a copy of the consumer credit report used to make a decision.

    • The copy must include all information considered in the decision-making process.
    • The tenant has a right to review the report and understand why it affected their application.

    Challenging the Accuracy of the Credit Report

    Tenants have the right to challenge the accuracy of the information contained in the credit report.

    • If there are errors or fraudulent information, the tenant can initiate a dispute with the credit reporting agency.
    • The tenant should provide documentation supporting the inaccuracy of the information.

    Denial of Housing Based on Credit

    Landlords cannot deny housing based solely on a tenant’s credit score or history.

    • The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
    • Landlords must consider other criteria such as income, rental history, and references.

    Addressing Credit Issues Openly

    • Tenants with poor credit scores should address this aspect proactively with the landlord.
    • Be honest about your financial situation and explain any extenuating circumstances.
    • Offer additional documentation, such as proof of income or a letter of explanation, to support your case.

    Landlord Responsibilities

    Landlords must adhere to specific responsibilities when running credit checks:

    Compliance with FCRALandlords must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and its regulations.

    Proper ConsentObtain written consent from the tenant before running a credit check.

    Disclosure of Credit ReportProvide a copy of the credit report used in the decision-making process to the tenant.

    Non-DiscriminationLandlords cannot deny housing based solely on credit score or history.


    By understanding their rights and responsibilities, tenants can safeguard their interests during credit checks. Landlords must adhere to fair housing laws and respect tenants’ privacy. Open communication and a focus on individual circumstances can help promote a fair and equitable rental process for all parties involved.

    Thanks for sticking with me through this article about whether or not landlords can check your credit score. I hope you found the information helpful. I know it can be a bit daunting to think about your credit score being scrutinized, but it’s important to remember that landlords are just trying to make sure you’re a responsible tenant who will pay your rent on time and take care of their property. If you have any other questions about renting or credit scores, be sure to check out my other articles or leave a comment below. And don’t forget to come back soon for more informative and engaging content!