What Does a Background Check Show for Rental? (4 Things They Search)

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Background Checks | June 24, 2022

What does a background check show for rental screening? When looking for a new place to rent, it’s good to know what a rental background investigation entails and especially what landlords look for and what they search during the screening process.

A tenant background check will typically search four things:

  • Rental History (including evictions)
  • Employment History
  • Credit History
  • Criminal History

These four areas help determine whether a potential renter meets the qualifications for residency, and that can be used to make housing decisions that comply with federal housing and discrimination laws.

Rental applicants can run these checks themselves, or reach out to a background check agency that offers a 7 day free trial background check that includes the information. Doing a criminal background check on yourself can identify any possible issues that may arise, especially any erroneous information, so that when an apartment background check is officially run, it can come back squeaky clean.

Because, knowing what shows up on a background check for these four things they search can eliminate some of the headaches associated with finding a new home.1  

What Does A Rental Background Check Consist Of?

When requesting a background check, the following reports are standard once written consent has been granted.

#1. Rental History

There will be a report on an individual’s previous history that consists of a list of all the addresses of where they resided before on rental places and the relevant contact information. This may be the landlord’s contact or that of the property manager.

Apartment rental history screenshot for New York tenant background check with links showing how to access rental history, which is one answer to 'what do rental backgorund checks show.

Sometimes, there is no rental history to consider, as it may be the potential tenant’s first time renting, so the landlord will instead look into the list of references and the proof of employment that they have to make sure they will be paid rent on time.

Some red flags landlords will be looking out for include previous history of eviction and late rent. Eviction cases show up only during the criminal background check, but if a previous landlord discloses the information that a tenant had their lease terminated, the rental history check can show it. This, in light of other factors, may lead to a rejection of the prospective tenant’s application.

Related Reading: Does an eviction go on your record?

#2. Employment History

The ideal rent-to-income ratio for most landlords is earning three to four times as much as one pays for rent. To protect their property value and avoid bad renter experiences, most landlords will seek to verify that the job is accurate and stable and that the person has been at the job for long enough. They may even call the employer to confirm that the person is indeed an employer and has been for at least six months.

One can also be considered if a letter of recommendation from their employer ascertains their employment in the company.  If the individual does not have an income source, they can choose to pay a higher security deposit or even use their bank statements to prove adequate savings for rent money.

Many rental applications will require the employment history information for at least the last five years.

#3. Credit History

The safest credit score range for most landlords is 600, with a good pattern in an individual’s credit score. There are several nuances to having the correct credit score, as most landlords and apartment communities will look at ways more than the actual score. Knowing what’s on the credit report7 be applying is a good idea.

Without a good credit history, the landlord may need a guarantor or cosigner before agreeing to let one live in the apartment.

#4. Criminal History

Landlords will also run a person’s criminal history, checking for both convictions and non-convictions. The criminal history report is usually based at the local level. For example, the state where the person currently resides. However, some rental companies may perform checks in states for previous addresses.

For example, if someone is relocating from Alabama to Tennessee, the rental company may run the criminal background check in the state of Alabama. These checks (since they are typically run using a social security number background check)  show arrest without convictions, warrants, and whether or not the person is listed on the state’s sex offender registry.

Related Reading: What shows up on a criminal background check?

When certain things in an individual’s criminal history may incriminate them or prevent them from getting the apartment, it is always best to be upfront about it and offer their explanations to the landlord.3

What Can Landlords See On A Background Check?

A tenant background investigation usually includes data like criminal histories, payment abilities, eviction records, and rental history, many of which can assist property owners in making an intelligent leasing conclusion.

What Does A Background Check Show For Rental Applications?

Most background checks show the above information and include checks of state and national sex offender registries.

What Does A Background Check Show For Renting Government Housing?

What does a background check show for rental involved with government housing? The results for a background check in private apartments and government housing are often similar.

The credit checks may go back as far as seven to ten years, and negative records such as loan defaults, repossessed cars, and bankruptcy declarations may still be visible.

The criteria for accepting and rejecting tenants in government housing are standard and fair in most cases. People with criminal records often have difficulty finding housing, and government apartments may include such people by offering them subsidized housing or individualized assessment in criminal record screening; this will prove their potential to be good tenants.

What Does A Background Check For An Apartment Show?

The main aim of background apartment checks8 is to verify the trustworthiness of a potential tenant.

Screenshot of checklist for renting an apartment and what do people need to qualify.

A background check will show:

  • The county or state criminal record: this will allow the landlord to decide whether they will allow one to rent or not based on history.
  • The sex offender registry check: each state has different laws concerning sex offenders. Some, such as California, inhibit discrimination against convicted sex offenders, while others allow it, meaning that it is possible to search the possible tenants using their names and location.
  • Credit report: this ascertains the responsibility levels of potential clients.4
  • Proof of income: paycheck stubs may be necessary to ensure that tenants can comfortably pay their rent without fail. This may also be done using employment history and the landlord speaking to the employer.
  • Former landlord references: talking to the previous renters can help the landlord know one’s previous renting habits and assess whether they are the best fit for their property.  This may include points such as whether one paid rent on time or has an eviction history.

What Is A Background Check For Renting A House?

What does a background check show for rental? A background check is an investigation done by landlords and property managers to establish a tenant’s suitability for their property.

The check involves different points such as the criminal history and employment record and may run on all these points or just one or a few. Applicants need to sign a consent form to show that they agree to have the background check performed.

What Does A Landlord Background Check Show?

A background check can reveal some basic information such as Screenshot explaining what is a tenant background screening company and why these consumer reports are part of what does a landlord see on a background check.

  • Personal financial records
  • Credit histories
  • State, county, and city-county records
  • The education history of the individual
  • Work authorization and employment history
  • License details
  • Driving records
  • Social media profiles.

What Background Check Do Most Landlords Use?

What does a background check show for rental reports? Background checks are done by online services that go through the different publicly available records to compile the information they get about them. The public domain of the Internet has a lot of information about individuals, and records can bring all this data together to paint a compelling picture of who they are.

Related Reading: How long does a background check take for an apartment?

One of the top reasons to consider when choosing the best site to use is the cost of using either of the locations. As a tenant, the application fee varies. Some states limit the chargeable amount, while others leave it to the landlord.5

What Do You Need To Run A Background Check For Rental In My Home?

In order to run a background check for a private home rental, the law is very clear. The homeowner must follow FCRA guidelines, which involve a number of consent forms, responsibilities and detailed compliance rules. For this reason, most homeowners choose a reputable FCRA compliant company to conduct the one time background check.

One can pay in levels to see the different levels of information9 about the person depending on what information one needs for a rental background check.

What Can Disqualify You From Renting An Apartment (Are There Felon Friendly Apartments?)

One can fail to qualify for renting if:

  • They do not have adequate income or their income sources are not verified
  • Poor credit scores
  • They gave bad references which did not attest to their worthiness.
  • They had constant evictions from their previous rentals or lease terminations
  • They have unexplained gaps in their rental history.
  • Their balances and arrears from their last property are still unpaid.
  • The competition for the building is too high.

When seeking to start life afresh after incarceration in prison, many ex-convicts will have difficulty finding decent housing with such strict background checks. It is always advisable to be upfront about their history to their landlord to consider their application in this new light.

Some felon-friendly apartments do not require background checks to be done, and that would be excellent for such situations.  Working one-on-one with personal landlords and seeking government resources can be great for finding felon-friendly apartments10

Legal considerations when conducting rental backgrounds in different states:

State Background Check for RentalState Brochure/FAQSHUD Law
AlabamaTenant Rights brochure11Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Alabama – HUD
AlaskaAlaska Landlord and Tenant Act, PUB-3012Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Alaska – HUD
ArizonaArizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act13Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Arizona – HUD
ArkansasLandlord and Tenant Rights – Arkansas Attorney General14Rental Help: Arkansas – HUD
CaliforniaCalifornia Tenants A guide15Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: California – HUD
ColoradoLandlord/Tenant – ColoradoTenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Colorado – HUD
ConnecticutConnecticut Law About Landlord/Tenant Law16Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Connecticut – HUD
DelawareLandlord_Tenant_Code17Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Delaware – HUD
FloridaLandlord/Tenant Law in Florida18Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Florida – HUD
GeorgiaTenant Rights19Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Georgia – HUD
HawaiiLandlord-Tenant Handbook20Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Hawaii – HUD
IdahoLANDLORD AND TENANT RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES21Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Idaho – HUD
IllinoisLandlord-Tenant Rights22Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Illinois – HUD
IndianaIHCDA: Renter’s Rights23Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Indiana – HUD
IowaLandlord-Tenant Law24Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Iowa – HUD
KansasTENANTS HANDBOOK – Kansas Legal Services25Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Kansas – HUD
KentuckyKentucky Revised Statutes26Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Kentucky – HUD
LouisianaMoving In, Moving Out, and Everything in Between!27Rental Help: Louisiana – HUD
MaineRental Housing Rights Document28Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Maine – HUD
MarylandLandlord and Tenant Brochure29Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Maryland – HUD
MassachusettsTenant rights30Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Massachusetts – HUD
MichiganTenants & Landlords – Michigan Legislature31Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Michigan – HUD
MinnesotaLandlords and Tenants – Minnesota Attorney General32Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Minnesota – HUD
MississippiLandlord-Tenant Law in Mississippi33Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Mississippi – HUD
MissouriMissouri’s Landlord-Tenant Law Publication34Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Missouri – HUD
MontanaTenants and Landlords – Montana Department of Justice35Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Montana – HUD
NebraskaLandlord-Tenant Act36Local Tenants Rights, Laws, and Protections: Nebraska – HUD
NevadaTenant’s Rights – Nevada Consumer Affairs37Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Nevada – HUD
New HampshireLandlord-Tenant Information Sheet38Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: New Hampshire – HUD
New JerseyTenants’ Rights in New Jersey39Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: New Jersey – HUD
New MexicoRenter’s Guide – New Mexico Department of Health40Rental Help: New Mexico – HUD
New YorkResidential Tenants’ Rights Guide41Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: New York – HUD
North CarolinaLandlord-Tenant Laws42Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: North Carolina
North DakotaTenant Rights – ND Attorney General43Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: North Dakota – HUD
OhioTENANT RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES44Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Ohio – HUD
OklahomaOKLAHOMA STATUTES TITLE 41. LANDLORD AND TENANT45Public Housing and Subsidized Housing(Section 8) – OKLaw.org
OregonLandlord-Tenant Rights – Oregon State Legislature46Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Oregon – HUD
PennsylvaniaLandlord and Tenant Act47Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Pennsylvania – HUD
Rhode IslandThe Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Handbook48Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Rhode Island – HUD
South CarolinaSouth Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act49Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: South Carolina
South DakotaLandlord/Tenant – South Dakota Consumer Protection50Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: South Dakota – HUD
TennesseeUniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act51Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Tennessee – HUD
TexasTenants’ Rights Handbook52Subsidized Housing – Landlord/Tenant Law
UtahThe Renter Toolkit: – Workforce Services – Utah.gov53Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Utah – HUD
VermontResources for Renters and Landlords54Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Vermont – HUD
VirginiaVirginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act55Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Virginia – HUD
WashingtonLandlord-Tenant Law56Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Washington State – HUD
West VirginiaRenters’ Rights57Local Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: West Virginia – HUD
WisconsinLandlord/Tenant GuideTenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Wisconsin – HUD
WyomingRenter’s Rights & Duties – Equal Justice Wyoming58Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: Wyoming – HUD

As a tenant, it helps to establish a good and trustworthy rapport with the future landlord, as it makes one’s stay in the new home as enjoyable as possible. So, knowing the answer to “what does a background check show for rental” can help eliminate any issues with finding a new home.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Does A Background Check Show For Rental?

What Background Check Do Most Landlords Use?

The choice of background checker to use is dependent on the price to pay and the speed and accuracy of the checker. As the landlord will be responsible for deciding who occupies a certain property or not, the results need to be accurate to avoid bias.6

Can I Get A Free Background Check For Renters?

Yes, one can get free rental background checks in two ways: doing the checks for themselves or passing on the cost to the tenant applicant. The disadvantage to the second method is that it can significantly reduce the pool of tenants willing to apply because many tenants are unwilling to pay the fee.

How Extensive Are Background Checks For Apartments? (What Do Rental Background Checks Show?)

It includes county and state criminal records, proof of income, the sex offender registry, credit report, references to their previous landlords, and eviction history.

How Many Years Can A Landlord Go Back On A Background Check?

Background checks can go back 7 to 10 years for the landlord to get the most accurate information and see the full scope of the individual’s character. This is especially helpful in analyzing data such as credit card scores and employment history.

What Will Help Learn How To Pass A Background Check For An Apartment?

  • On-time payments to creditors
  • Stay out of trouble with the law
  • Stay away from any landlord entanglements

Can I Run A Rental Background Check On Myself?

Yes, one can run a background check on themself. They need to log into the sites where the background check is done and fill in their details.6

Is There A Criminal Background Check For Renters?

Yes, there is. Some states have approved landlords and other homeowners to conduct criminal background checks for renters with their permission. Some states have prohibited it completely to avoid prejudice against people with criminal records.

How Long Does Rental Background Check Take?

Typically a rental background check takes no longer than a standard credit check, which is usually 1-3 days. Holidays and inaccurate information entered on the rental application can lengthen this time frame.


References

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