Running a Tenant Credit Check — why and how?

Nelda Schulte
5 min readMay 26, 2021

A tenant credit check is a wealth of information and is the final step in the tenant screening process. It shows you a snapshot of the tenant’s financial history, spending habits, and most importantly, their payment habits. Based on the credit history, you can make an informed decision about the tenant’s creditworthiness and financial condition.

But…credit checks are so much more than that. Tenant credit checks vary in the amount of information they provide. Some provide a very comprehensive overview of financial history, bankruptcies, loans, and evictions. Others only offer a credit score, recent addresses and employers, and recent loans.

A tenant credit check can also confirm;

· identity, current and previous addresses, and known employers

· credit history including credit card accounts, utility payments, phone bills, loans, payment patterns, credit card and loan limits, and co-signers

· bankruptcies, liens or civil judgments, and evictions

· FICO Score

It’s important to note; you must have the tenant’s permission in writing, signed, and dated before running a tenant credit report. Either include this information in the application form or include it as a separate form. You must also follow the same standard screening process for all tenants. If you run a credit check for one tenant, you must run it for all tenants.

Who can run a tenant credit report?

Your local residential tenant association or Landlord Facebook Group, or even a quick Google search, will have listings of credit bureaus available for members, often at reduced rates. It’s a good rule of thumb to run the credit report first, and if the credit score meets your standards, proceed with the references. However, if the credit score doesn’t meet your criteria, save yourself the time and effort of screening references.

Credit companies permit landlords to run credit checks with:

· A document verifying you own the rental property, such as a current land title or mortgage statement from your financial institution

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Nelda Schulte

Nelda Schulte is a freelance writer based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada who specializes in real estate.