It may be tempting to try to hide a bad rental history when applying for a new apartment as a potential tenant. Generally, however, you want to be honest and transparent about any issues that may have occurred in the past. Hiding a bad rental history may cause problems in the future if your landlord finds out the truth. It’s advisable to be upfront and offer an explanation or solution for any negative experiences you may have had in your past rental. Be honest and proactive to increase your chances of securing the new apartment.
What is considered bad rental history?
Bad rental history can include a range of negative experiences or behaviors that occurred during a tenant’s previous rental agreements. Some examples of what may be considered bad rental history are:
- Late or missed rent payments
- Damage to the rental property
- Noise complaints or disturbing the peace
- Illegal activity on the property
- Failure to follow the terms of the lease agreement
- Frequently breaking the rules of the property or community
- Abandonment of the rental property
Note that landlords each have different standards and expectations for what they consider a bad rental history. Be honest and upfront about any issues in your previous rentals and try to address them to potentially reduce any negative impact on your new rental application.
Does bad rental history go away?
Bad rental history goes away. The right question should be, “how long does bad rental history stay on your record?” According to federal eviction laws, an eviction remains on a person’s rental and credit history for 7 years and should be removed from the record automatically after this time. The 7-year timeline is calculated from the date of the first missed payment, regardless of the date of the eviction. However, if a legal case was brought to evict you, that could be accessible via court records indefinitely, per Lexington Law.
You can request your credit report from the 3 major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) to view the details of the eviction on your record. Additionally, you can check your records with major rental history companies and tenant-screening agencies. In some cases, even after paying and 7 years have passed, an eviction can still appear on your credit report if the eviction lawsuit resulted in a civil judgment, which is recorded as a debt owed through a civil judgment.
How to hide bad rental history
In most cases, it’s not possible to completely hide your rental history from landlords and property management companies. They often request and check your rental history as part of the application process. Your rental information is typically verified through a background check, which may involve contacting your previous landlords or property management companies to ask about your payment history, behavior as a tenant, and the condition in which you left the rental property. While it may not be possible to erase negative information from your rental history, you may be able to provide documentation to explain any issues, such as proof of extenuating circumstances that led to late rent payments or damage to the property, or try to cover up your history with the following tips:
1. Find a co-signer
If you have a poor rental history, you may be able to find a close friend or relative with good credit to co-sign the lease with you. Many landlords are willing to consider this option. If your co-signer is not your roommate, they can’t live in the rental property, but rather have agreed to be held responsible for any damages to the property or failure to pay rent. Nevertheless, a co-signer can be your roommate who shares your living space, per Rent.com. This option can also be helpful for first-time renters who may not have a rental history, as opposed to those with a bad rental history.
2. Offer advance payment or a larger security deposit
There are several ways to demonstrate to your potential landlord that you can be a responsible tenant and that they can trust you to pay your rent on time without making excuses. You can offer to pay 2-3 months of rent in advance or to allow the landlord to keep a larger security deposit to reassure them that you are committed to your responsibilities as a tenant.
You could also offer to pay a little extra on your monthly rent to show the landlord that you are willing to go above and beyond to meet your obligations.
Each landlord is different and may have specific preferences or requirements when it comes to rent payments. Thus, try to communicate directly with them to understand their expectations and how you can satisfy them.
3. Include references
Hiding a poor rental history can be difficult, and it’s challenging to find a landlord who is willing to rent to you. Nevertheless, there are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of getting approval. First, try to explain the reasons behind your poor rental history to provide the landlord with some context and help them see that the issues were circumstantial or may have been resolved.
You can provide letters of recommendation from people who know you and can speak to your character and reliability. So, get letters of recommendation from your boss, a previous roommate, or a previous landlord you had a good experience with and submit them alongside your rental application.
4. Living with parents, no rental history
If you don’t have a rental history because you’ve never rented before and have been living with family, you may need to provide other forms of documentation or references to potential landlords to show that you are capable of paying rent and being a responsible tenant. Consider presenting the following documents:
- Employment history and proof of income
- Bank statements or other financial documents
- Personal or professional references
- A letter of recommendation from a previous landlord or property manager (if applicable)
Note that landlords each have different requirements and preferences when evaluating potential tenants. You want to be transparent about your lack of good rental history and submit any relevant documentation or references to help prove your reliability and responsibility as a tenant.
5. Find a roommate
If you are having trouble getting approved for a rental on your own, consider finding a roommate to help you qualify. Sharing a rental with a roommate can be a good way to offset the cost of rent and make it more affordable. It also helps if you don’t have a good rental or credit history, and your potential landlord is more likely to approve your application if you have a roommate with a solid rental and credit history.
Living with a roommate can have its challenges and may force you to want them out, so it’s important to make sure you find someone you are compatible with and can communicate with openly and honestly. Here’s my other publication that details how you can evict your roommate though.
6. Find apartments that don’t check rental history
It may be difficult to find apartments that don’t check rental history. Landlords typically want to know about your previous rental history to evaluate your reliability and responsibility.
Nevertheless, you could apply for an apartment with smaller, independent landlords or property managers who may be more willing to overlook your rental history.
You can also find an apartment that is part of a government-subsidized housing program with lenient requirements for rental history. Just make sure to be honest about your rental history and be proactive in finding ways to prove that you are reliable.
7. Secure a rental property without past references
A reference for a rental application should be written by someone who is associated with you. Ideally, this would be a previous or current landlord, but if you are a first-time renter and don’t have any rental references, you can ask other people who know you well to provide a reference. This could include your boss, a colleague, a roommate, or even a neighbor.
Providing proof of employment, such as pay stubs or a letter of recommendation from your manager or supervisor, can also help prove that you can afford the rent.
How do I dispute rental history on my credit report?
You can dispute your rental history on your credit report with the following tips:
1. Pay any outstanding debt on your rental
If you have outstanding rental debt, try addressing it as soon as possible. If the debt is legitimate, endeavor to pay it off as soon as possible. What if you are unable to pay the entire amount at once? Consider negotiating with the collection agency or landlord for additional time or a lower payment amount.
After you agree on a payment plan, get it in writing, either by entering into a written agreement or signing a contract.
2. Have the collection agency remove it from your credit report
Outstanding rental debt will still appear on your credit report, even after you make payments. The debt on your credit report, even if marked as paid, can still have an impact on your rental applications. You can improve your credit score and increase your chances of getting approval by requesting that the collection agency expunge the debt from your credit report.
3. Have your previous landlord remove the report from tenant screening records
Make a polite request to your previous landlord to clear your rental history by getting rid of the eviction from public tenant screening records accessible to the public. In some cases, you can include it as a condition for the payment of any outstanding rent arrears. It should be a written agreement, so make sure to have a copy in case of any disputes in the future.
4. Verify that changes have been made
If you have requested that your landlord or a collection agency remove an eviction from your credit report and tenant screening records, follow up to make sure that the request has been granted. You may have to give the landlord or creditor about 14 to 30 days to process your request and remove the eviction from your records.
5. Dispute the rental record
If the eviction is still on your records after this time, send a reminder to the landlord or creditor asking them to take action. If they fail to do so, consider disputing the eviction.
The dispute process involves challenging the accuracy of the information on your credit report or tenant screening records and asking the creditor or credit bureau to investigate and remove the incorrect information. This process can be complex, so seek the assistance of a professional, such as a credit counselor or attorney, if you are unsure what to do.
Even if you fix your bad rental history, it becomes easier to get approved for a new residential lease agreement. It’s advisable not to pay cash when fixing a bad rental history. If the landlord refuses a personal check, use certified bank checks or money orders to serve as proof that you paid the money owed in full.