Finding a rental home can be an exciting yet stressful prospect, especially if you have a history of late payments, poor relations with former landlords, or even an eviction. For tenants with a bad rental history, it can be difficult finding a landlord or property manager willing to overlook what’s normally considered a red flag.
Luckily, it’s not impossible to secure a rental even if you have a prior eviction or bad credit. In this article, we’ll go over different examples of bad rental history, how long those issues can stay on your record, and what you can do to increase your chances of finding your next home.
What qualifies as a bad rental history?
There are numerous examples that qualify as a bad rental history. Evictions, one of the most common examples, is the legal removal of a tenant from a property and is an immediate red flag for most landlords and property managers. If a renter repeatedly violates their lease agreement, causes significant damage to the property, or conducts illegal activity on the property, a landlord is within their right to begin the eviction process.
Other examples include late or missed rent payments; property damage; prior legal issues; and breaking the terms of the lease agreement. From the landlord’s perspective, these are all signs that a renter is unreliable or represents a potential risk to their property and financial investment.
If you’re a tenant who was rejected from a rental due to an adverse action, one of the first steps to take is to ask the landlord why you were rejected and for the contact information of the reporting agency they used. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re legally allowed to know what negative information appears on your report and are entitled to a free copy of that report.
How long does a bad rental history stay on record?
Once you’ve identified what kind of negative information is on your record, the next step is understanding how long those marks can stay on record. Knowing how long a late payment versus a noise complaint stays on record can help you take the appropriate actions to clean up your history and strengthen your chances of finding your next home.
An eviction, for example, can stay on your record for seven years or until the statute of limitations expires, whichever is longer. If you’ve ever owed a debt to a property manager that was ultimately discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding, it’s likely that information will stay on record for up to ten years. Finally, even a single late payment can negatively affect your credit score as it stays on your credit report for seven years. In most instances, you’ll have 30 days to repay the debt before it shows up on your report, but miss that window and your late payment won’t fall off your credit report until after seven years.
How to remove bad rental history and clean up your record
Depending on your rental history, there are several proactive steps you can take to remove certain items from your record.
- If you have an eviction on record… you may take your case to court if you believe you were wrongfully evicted and can prove you didn’t violate any terms of your lease agreement. If you were evicted because of a late payment, start by repaying your debts and consider working with the landlord or collection agency to establish a payment plan, if needed. Once you’ve settled your debts, you can ask to have the collections and eviction removed from your tenant screening reports as a condition of fulfilling your debts.
- If you have a history of late payments… you can keep this off your record if you pay within 30 days of the original due date. You can also have a falsely reported late payment removed off your record by contacting the creditor and filing a dispute.
- If you damaged property… take accountability and fix the damage incurred as quickly as possible. Work with your landlord or property manager and see if they’d be willing to remove any judgements from your record once you’ve addressed any issues.
Overall, you are entitled to dispute any outdated or inaccurate information on your tenant screening report directly with the consumer reporting agency. If you feel like your rights were violated under the FCRA or any other local regulations, you may want to reach out to a lawyer in case a lawsuit needs to be filed.
Finally, make it a habit to regularly check on your credit score and rental history report so you can identify any irregularities and take the appropriate steps to fix any blemishes on record. In addition to proactively reviewing your rental history, make sure you’re keeping up with your monthly payments; maintaining the property; and working with your landlord to address any issues that arise. While it can be extra challenging to find a home with a bad rental history, the good news is that with a bit of patience and hard work, you’ll be able to find the perfect home for you.