Before you begin a search for your next apartment, get a rental history report to find out what potential landlords could learn about you. This report provides information about your behavior in previous rental properties. Landlords rely on it when performing a background search, because it could indicate what to expect of a potential tenant. They look for red flags, such as late payments and evictions, that indicate an undesirable tenant.
Free Rental Report
Federal law entitles you to one free specialty consumer report each year from various sources, which includes reports from companies providing information on rental history. Many of these companies have a website where you can request your free copy. Privacyrights.org lists some prominent agencies, including LexisNexis Screening Solutions, Experian RentBureau and Real Page Leasing Desk. Because there are so many agencies, contact the landlord of the apartment you are considering to find out which he uses.
Some consumer reporting agencies accept online applications, while others require applications by mail. All require identifying information, such as your full name, Social Security number, date of birth, current address and telephone number. If you mail your application, you might have to include a copy of a document that proves your identity, such as your driver's license, and one that verifies your address, like a utility bill. The turnaround time for receiving the report depends on the company. It might arrive by email, mail or fax.
Filing a Dispute
File a dispute with the company if the report contains inaccurate information. In most cases, you must do so in writing. State the problem and provide copies of any document that supports your dispute. The company will investigate the issue with the source of the information. Based on the results, agents will correct their records if necessary, or leave it as is if they find that the information on file is accurate. In the latter case, you may write a note explaining the problem, which the company will add to your records. This note will be included in future reports when a client requests a copy.
Removing Negative Information
Negative information on your rental history report can make securing an apartment difficult. Depending on the nature of these entries, you might be able to fix the problem and have the information removed from your record. If your former landlord reported damaged property, for instance, contact him and arrange a solution. When you have taken care of the problem, ask the landlord to report it to the company so it can remove the negative entry.