Credit Rating and Apartment Rental Application

So I moved to Columbus a few months ago, and I’m staying at a friend’s place. I’m about to put in an application for a nice apartment, and on the application they ask if I have a bank account (& type), car loan, and credit cards, so it looks like they’re going to check credit rating.

I got a collections notice in the mail yesterday from the telephone company in Cincinnati. Apparently, they didn’t get my last payment, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. My credit rating is not so good. It’s not single digits, but it’s got some bad stuff on it. I was unemployed for almost 2 years a while back, and I had a lot of problems at the time. Even recently I’ve had some problems here and there. I’ve some old credit cards that I haven’t been able to pay off, cards I haven’t used in a long time.

I’m totally freaking now. I really want this place, and I can’t shake the thought that this is going to be the final straw that makes them deny my application. In the 5 years I lived at my last place I was never late with rent, and my landlord said I was a good tenant. I’ve got a new job making good money. And I really want this apartment.

So does anyone know what they’re going to look for? Is there some cut off point? Is there anything I can do to mitigate any bad results? What, theoretically, would be the results of me not reporting my credit cards on my application? How screwed am I? For some reason I’m totally convinced that I’m going to get denied, I really want this place, and I’m losing sleep over it. I need some info to work with, and some good news wouldn’t hurt.

Bad debt. Landords look for collections, written off debts or extreme delinquencies.

Cinci utility? Prob NOT on credit report.

Find out for free at the FTC-mandated www.annualcreditreport.com

All three national agencies are required to provide a report via the site above.

(some landlords make their own decisions, some use a tenant screening tool/model from one of the reporting agencies; so, ultimately, it is hard to say specifically what they are looking for).

1st if you were a good tenent to your last landlord, contact him and see if he will give you a letter of recomendation. Have him incluse how long you rented and that you were on time with the rents and were a good tenent.

Get a copy of your credit report so you will know what it contains. And start repairing it. Smart landlords have a set criteria for who they will rent from. Things like job, wage, how long employeed or how long in profession.

What is the market like. If renters are hard to find then landlords will lower some of the requirements. If there are more renters then units then they will be harder.

You need to be active in you financal conditions. Not just loosing sleep.

Yep, your typical landlord uses the credit report as a guideline, but could care less if you charged off a credit card 4 years ago as long as you can prove that you paid rent in full, on time, every time. That is, after all, what he cares about.

Here’s a thread I started back when on this topic: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=255009

Here’s an idea: If you can dig up a bunch of cancelled rent checks from your old place, bring them along when you submit the application. Be totally up front and say something like, “From the application, it looks like you might want to do a credit check, to make sure I can pay on time. I want to be totally honest with you, so I’m telling you right now that I did have that and that problem, but I’ve always been on time with my rent. Here’s the cancelled checks and you can even phone my old landlord if you want. My new job yada yada yada, etc etc etc.” They might appreciate the honesty so much that they won’t bother with the credit check, and just okay you like that.

Th landlady asked about my previous landlord, and I said go ahead and contact them, the information is on the rental application. I had a good relationship with them, no complaints, and was never late with rent. I hope this is good enough to cover the rest of my crappy credit rating.

The ability to pull credit information has saved my bacon countless times. It keeps folks honest and puts a big red mark on those that aren’t.

Besides knowing how folks treat their financial responsibilities, I can see employment history, address history, SSN verification and a list of people that may be coming after a potential tenant with judgments that may affect their ability to pay rent.

Though I do pay for scoring, I use my own judgment in reading between the lines. I can tell if someone has had a streak of bad luck in the employment area and gotten behind, or if they are just deadbeats that have never been responsible in their lives.

You are probably going to get a refusal hotflungwok, but there are a couple ways to get around it in most cases. Find a co-signer with excellent credit that is willing to back you up financially, or be willing to pay several month’s rent in advance. Landlord and work references are good, but I don’t depend on them much because it’s just too easy to fake.

Or, just buy a house for cash.