Renting an apartment? Be prepared for a background check

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You’re about to rent an apartment. You’ve saved for your security deposit and lined up a moving truck. But have you checked your credit report? Landlords may, so you should too. If a landlord does a background check, here are some things to know about your rights.

Landlords can check your credit, criminal history, and even your rental history. They may ask your permission but they’re not required to. So, if you know you’ll be looking for a new place to live – or if you’re about to renew your lease – then here are a few things you can do:

  • Go to to check your credit. That way, you can fix any errors before a landlord sees them.
  • Give the landlord your correct full name—first, middle, and last—and date of birth. This helps make sure the landlord gets information on the right person. 
  • If you have a criminal history or previous housing court actions, gather any paperwork showing how the action was resolved in case you need to fix errors.

Some landlords might say not to apply if you have a criminal record. That could be discrimination. If that happens to you or if you think that a landlord illegally discriminated against you for another reason, such as your race or gender, contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development

What if a landlord refuses to rent to you or charges you more because of something in a background check? Then you have rights:

  • The landlord must give you notice of the action – orally, in writing or electronically.
  • The notice must give you contact information for the company that supplied the report.
  • The notice must tell you about your rights to correct inaccurate information and to get a free copy of the report if you ask for it within 60 days of the landlord’s decision.

You should obtain your free report, fix any errors, and have the company that supplied the report give the corrected report to the landlord. Tell the landlord about the mistake, too. For more information on background reports and your rights, check out the Summary of Rights.

If you think a landlord or property manager violated your rights – or anyone else’s – when using a background check, report it to the FTC. And if you’re a landlord who wants to do the right thing, check out Using Consumer Reports: What Landlords Need to Know.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Very helpful information

As the above shows, very little protection for tenants, As here in Arizona, if a Landlord wants you out, all they have to do is say, Get Out, and you have No recourse, and the very little that you do have, is Costly and Time consuming. I'm Not talking about people who are committing Felonies..

Arizona state law ARS § 33-1367 prohibits a landlord from forcing a tenant out of the rental unit unlawfully. It is illegal for a landlord to change the locks on the rental unit or turn off the utilities in order to force a tenant to move out of the rental unit. These kind of practices are called self-help evictions, and Arizona law specifically makes them illegal. If the landlord tries to evict the tenant through a self-help method, the landlord may end up owing the tenant monetary damages.

Good info! We were thinking of relocating to AZ.

thank you ftc

As per how money dictates a renter has no rights when looking for a home, all the rights goes where the big profits are flowing which is the land owners. In Utah a landlord can evict a tenant in 3 days for no reason, look it up.

Screen your Land-Lord: make sure they are not Registered Sex Offenders. I would sleep so much better at night fully knowing that unsuspecting Tenants are not being taken advantage of.

what I do not like is a person who has no credit rating is treated like they have a poor credit rating. Something wrong there. A person who does not owe still gets discriminated against. In my case I had to pay a higher damage deposit in full without using a credit card.

I was denied an apartment with affordable housing for not putting current landlords name, I gave new information to receptionist, she asked for his address, and phone number so when I asked her if she wanted his name she replied "No, this should be enough. I was a bit shocked but more shocked to be denied for something that affordable housings receptionist had done. That denial was in September2016 and that's the $35 background, credit check I paid for. They gave my apartment to someone else and corrected my denial but now it's been 3 months and I feel it's more to what's really going on. This happened in Portland Oregon.

Will a restraining order show up on a background check for renting an apartment in Arizona

This FTC article has information about background checks, and the kind of questions an employer can ask you during the hiring process. You can read the article, and follow the links in the article to get more information related to employment.

For information about renting,  you could look at state law about landlords and tenants, or contact your local housing agency to ask about tenants' rights.

I have nonviolent, nondrug related charges in Ohio. I am looking for an apartment in Jacksonville, FL. I have been told most apartment complexes only do a state background checks and my charges wont show up. Do you know if this is true?

Best part is, when renting you pay up front. Standard these days is first, last and security plus pet deposits (if you're lucky enough to actually find a rental that allows pets). Credit is not being extended to the renter, and each month is paid in advance. If a landlord asks for a credit check, be sure to get one from them too. How does a renter know that their landlord is paying their bills? What if they don't pay their mortgage?

I recently applied for a 1 bedroom apt in Pasadena Texas. The manager told me basically I was approved as long as I had no felonies (which I don't) she asked me for a $150 $50 app fee and a $100 was the first months rent because they where running a special $99 move in with no security deposit. They told me they had to do a background check but if everything was ok I could move in 3 days I waited and waited and noone called me back so after 5 days I went into the office and they said I wasn't approved because of 2 misdemeanors! I asked for my $ back and they said they would mail me $100 because $50 was for my background check and it's been over 3 weeks and I still have not received my refund! Every time I call I get a run-a-round and no one knows whats going on. They say the person I need to speak to is out of the office and will have to call me back, but I never receive a call back! What can I do?

You may want to file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General's Office.

It happened to me to , even right now i am on Housing and I've been going through this for about three different places and now the apartment i am going to , when i went to apply for apartment i ask them if they had a1 bedroom for and they told that they do but they were working on it and it would ready in September25,17 and ask if it was on button apartment they said yes i told them oh good because that's what i was looking for because i can live upstairs because i am surgery for knee replacement then told me that they would save it for that deposit was going to be 200 and 25 for fee and if gave them deposit they would hold until it was ready they never said any about paying more for the deposit that was it until the apartment was ready then the inspection would be on the 25 of September at 9 o'clock in morning so i said ok so fill in the application that i had gave them the money order for the 200for deposit and 25 for the fee and after that i ask them that they need to fill in the application of a moving packages from the housing and i need the lease application on sign until the of inspection then we sign it with inspector so i dropped it off at housing development. So week later i called them so i can go look at apartment so that i know how big it is that why i know what would fit in there and told me ok so i the next day show me one and it was the button after she me that i to pay 250 dollars extra i ask why you guys had me that it was done that i just had to pay rent on first she it was because i did have any credit or my points were low i told them that's wrong because i been getting loans and they never said any that they me that that was getting was going to be upstairs and i told that i wanted downstairs they said no we told you we had a 1 bedroom apartment it was on upstairs if that was the i would not taking it and my mom was with me the time she hard everything because new that it had to now i don't know what do i don't know if the is going to expected or what but i can't live upstairs i don't know what to do.oh other thing when i went into the the was stain and i started to feel like something was on so i started to take some photos of apartment because i do that before i move and after i move out for my records.ok after that it was getting dark when was videotaping i started in living room carpet i was seing white things that look like snow coming from the carpet i thought i was seing thing but keep seing it so went the bedroom and the same thing but it was coming from all over i started to feeling something on my body like poking but weird tiny white and black so got my purse and left i started to ish bad.i to my mom's and went straight to the shower.that other thing to what do do about all the thing.Thank you for ready my comment.

in MN will traffic ticket with possession of weed stop me from renting?

I am a small company who rents out offices and would like to perform criminal background checks on perspective customers before handing over keys. What can I or should I be doing to protect myself and my customers?

The FTC has a collection of information for small business-owners at Go there for information about protecting your business from fraud, to watch videos and order free publications. This guidance explains what employers need to know about background checks. 

Thank you for your solution for making many people to homeless just because an offense occur and may not be eligible for place to stay. Number #1 in the nation for homeless.

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