You found a new apartment to rent that you like, and you put an offer in. However, before you can actually rent it, the landlord asks for a background check. While this is fairly standard practice, knowing what goes into an apartment background check can help you prepare and secure your dream home.
This guide answers all your frequently asked questions about background checks. Follow this advice to prepare with all the relevant details.
Why Do You Need a Background Check When You Rent an Apartment?
For many, getting a background check when renting an apartment seems redundant, but they’re crucial for the landlord.
For one, the landlord can determine whether you’ll be a reliable tenant who pays on time. In fact, most background checks aim to establish your financial situation.
Background checks also help the landlord figure out what kind of tenant you are. They’ll get to know you a bit before they put you in the position to live in and care of their property.
However, a background check isn’t anything malicious.
It’s a tried and tested way to establish trust between the landlord and tenant. And helping to make the background check go smoothly can help you secure your future apartment faster.
What Do They Look at During an Apartment Background Check?
Knowing what exactly goes into an apartment background check can help you get your documents and information ready. Generally, landlords look at these 4 crucial pieces of information to determine whether they approve your application or not.
Your Credit Score
Credit scores can give your future landlord a good idea about your financial history. Mostly, they’re looking for proof that you reliably pay your bills.
Generally, a credit score of 600 or more is good for landlords, but don’t worry, credit is not the only factor landlords consider when reviewing a background check.
Also, in some cases, if patterns in your credit score show that you were on track with your payments up until an unexpected event (such as a job loss), many landlords will take that into consideration when making a decision.
Request a credit report to know what your credit score is, and correct any errors before your landlord checks.
If you don’t have a credit score or your credit score is really low, the landlord may ask for a guarantor to co-sign your lease, or in some cases, a landlord may flat-out deny an applicant.
Landlords usually look for renters to have an income that’s three times the price of rent. That way, they’ll know that you’ll have the funds required to pay rent month after month.
They may also look at your employment history.
Sometimes, landlords can call your manager at your workplace to verify that you’re really employed and earn as much as you claim you do.
That’s why it’s important to provide the most accurate employment history information in your application.
Your Rental History
One of the most important factors of a background check when you’re renting an apartment is your rental history. The landlord will ask for the names and contact information of your previous landlords or property managers.
Then they’ll contact them to ask for a reference. This is how landlords find out what kind of tenant you are.
If you have a history of positive rental experiences, where you paid your rent on time and respected the property, the landlord will trust you more.
Your Criminal History
We recommend getting familiar with your local fair housing laws before applying for an apartment because these laws can vary vastly from county to county. Some counties restrict what landlords can and cannot take into consideration when reviewing a criminal background check.
A criminal history check doesn’t just look at your convictions. They also look at your dismissed or unprosecuted cases that may be in your record for up to seven years.
Convictions, on the other hand, stay on your record permanently unless it gets expunged or sealed.
If you have had any criminal cases, it’s best to be upfront about it with landlords. Don’t try to hide anything from them. If you do hide it and your landlord finds out during the background check, it may ruin your chances of landing your dream home.
How Far Back Do They Check?
Generally, background checks look at your credit and employment history for the past 7-10 years.
Negative reports, such as car repossession, stay in your credit report for 7 years. And bankruptcy stays on your credit for 10 years.
Can the Landlord Reject Your Application Based on Your Background Check?
A background check isn’t just a formality when you’re renting an apartment. A landlord can reject your application if they’re worried that you won’t be able to pay your rent or you won’t take good care of their apartment.
However, a landlord needs to apply the same set of standards for all their background checks. They can’t pick and choose their standards. Otherwise, they’ll be in violation of fair housing laws.
If you believe your application was rejected due to an unfair requirement during your background check, make sure you check your state laws for fair housing rules. These laws vary from state to state and will guide you through the process of reporting any violation.
How Long Does an Apartment Background Check Take?
Although the background check seems like a long and detailed process, it’s actually very quick. Usually, the landlord will get back to you within a couple of days.
The background check is only a small part of your rental application. It’s important to remember this and not worry about it too much.
How Much Does a Background Check Cost?
When you apply for an apartment, you often have to pay an application fee. This fee covers the background check and can range anywhere from $30 to $200 in some cases
Some states have a limit on the amount you have to pay for a background check, so make sure you check your state laws if your application price seems suspiciously high.
If you apply for your apartment through Brixbid, our $65 application fee gives landlords access to your report for 30 days. This can mean significant savings for you if you apply for more apartments on Brixbid.
Find and Rent an Apartment with a Built-In Background Check
Apartment background checks are crucial to establishing trust between you and your landlord. But, they’re not an easy process to go through.
That’s why we want to make background checks as easy and convenient as possible at Brixbid.
Our goal is to provide a pleasant rental experience for both you and your landlord. In fact, we built background checks directly into our platform. Potential renters can fill them out while looking for a new home and landlords can review them easily.
Don’t worry about your background check when you rent an apartment. Search for and find your dream home on Brixbid today!