Denied an Apartment Because of a Failed Background Check?

Last Updated:
September 2, 2023

It’s incredibly disheartening to be denied an apartment because of a failed background check. Rest assured, you’re not alone in this situation. Many people face similar obstacles and wonder how they can improve their chances of securing a rental in the future. 

Thankfully, there’s a silver lining – there are more options available than you might realize! It all begins with understanding why your background check failed in the first place.

Why Did My Background Check Fail?

To tackle this issue effectively, you need to know why your background check might have failed. Landlords conduct background checks to make sure potential tenants are responsible and trustworthy individuals. Some common factors that could lead to a failed background check are:

  • Criminal history

A record of criminal activity might make landlords hesitant to rent to you.

  • Poor credit score

A low credit score can indicate financial irresponsibility, which may concern potential landlords.

  • Unstable employment history

Frequently changing jobs or having long gaps in employment can raise red flags for landlords who seek tenants with steady income.

  • Prior evictions or landlord disputes

A history of evictions or conflicts with previous landlords may suggest potential issues in a future landlord-tenant relationship.

  • Inaccurate or false information on your application

Providing incorrect or misleading information on your rental application can result in disqualification.

Now that we’ve identified some of the reasons behind failed background checks, let’s delve into the legal protections in place for renters and what you can do if you believe your rights have been violated.

What Are My Rights as a Renter?

As a renter, it’s vital to be aware of your rights concerning background checks and renting. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is there to ensure that potential tenants don’t face discrimination based on factors like race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. 

If you have a feeling that your apartment application was denied because of discrimination, don’t worry! You have every right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and make your voice heard.

Additionally, there’s the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which requires landlords to give you a heads-up if your application was turned down because of something they found in your background check. When they notify you, they should also provide the contact information for the agency that supplied the report, along with instructions on how to challenge any errors you might find.

If your apartment application was denied due to information found in your background check, it’s crucial to obtain a free copy of the report and review it for any inaccuracies or outdated information. 

Should you find any errors, reach out to the reporting agency and supply documentation to support your dispute. Rectifying these inaccuracies might improve your chances of being approved for an apartment in the future.

What Can I Do to Improve My Credit Score?

A low credit score can significantly hinder your ability to rent an apartment. To enhance your credit score, consider the following suggestions:

  • Pay your bills on time

Timely payments are critical for maintaining a healthy credit score. Utilize payment reminders or set up automatic payments to stay punctual.

  • Tackle your debt

Prioritize paying off high-interest debt and avoid maxing out your credit cards.

  • Keep an eye on your credit report

Regularly review your credit report for inaccuracies, and dispute any errors you discover.

  • Maintain a low credit utilization rate

Strive to utilize less than 30% of your available credit at any given moment.

  • Retain old credit accounts

The age of your credit history contributes to your credit score, so it’s beneficial to keep old accounts open, even if they’re dormant.

By implementing these strategies and working diligently to improve your credit score, you can present yourself as a more attractive candidate to potential landlords. This can help overcome any hesitations they may have due to your background check and pave the way for a successful rental application.

How Can I Address My Criminal History?

Anyone with a criminal past will tell you that it can cause headaches later in life. And unfortunately, rentals are one of them. Should your criminal history be the primary cause of your failed background check, consider the following measures:

  • Obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation

This document can reassure landlords that you’ve made efforts to turn your life around and are committed to being a responsible tenant.

  • Expunge or seal your criminal record

Depending on your location and the specifics of your convictions, you might be eligible to have your criminal record expunged or sealed. Consult with a lawyer to discuss your options.

  • Be transparent with landlords

In some instances, honesty about your criminal history and an explanation of the circumstances can be beneficial. Show that you’ve learned from your past and are currently dedicated to being responsible and dependable.

Addressing the various factors that may have contributed to your failed background check can significantly improve your chances of securing an apartment in the future. Stay persistent, and don’t be afraid to seek legal advice when necessary. With determination and effort, you’ll be able to find a place you can call home.

Is It Possible to Strengthen My Employment History?

A stable employment history reassures landlords that you have a consistent income and are less likely to default on your rent. Here are some tips that can help you improve your employment history:

Maintain a Steady Job

Aim to avoid frequent job changes and focus on building a stable work history with your current employer. This demonstrates to potential landlords that you are a reliable candidate.

Update Your Resume

Ensure your resume accurately reflects your work experience and highlights your accomplishments. A polished and up-to-date resume can make a positive impression on landlords.

Prepare References

Compile a list of professional references who can vouch for your work ethic and reliability. These references can serve as another layer of reassurance for landlords evaluating your application.

How Can I Resolve Past Evictions or Landlord Disputes?

If you have a history of evictions or landlord disputes, addressing these issues is crucial for improving your chances of securing an apartment in the future. Employing the following steps can go a long way in proving that you’ve learned from your past experiences and are a renter worth having:

Pay Off Any Outstanding Debts

Settling any unpaid rent or damage charges from previous rentals is essential. This action shows landlords that you’ve taken responsibility for your past actions and are dedicated to making amends.

Obtain a Reference from a Previous Landlord

Securing a positive reference from a previous landlord can help counterbalance a history of evictions or disputes. This reassurance can convince landlords that you have the ability to maintain a positive relationship with them and can be trusted as a tenant.

Be Honest with Potential Landlords

When discussing your rental history, transparency is key. Share any evictions or disputes you’ve had in the past, and explain the circumstances surrounding these issues. Emphasize that you’ve learned from these experiences and are committed to being a responsible tenant moving forward, having taken steps to address any previous problems.

Ensuring Accuracy on Your Rental Application

To steer clear of a failed background check, it’s very important to ensure that all the details on your rental application are accurate and complete. Give your application a thorough double-check for any mistakes or missing information. Remember, false or misleading details could end up getting you disqualified!

How Can I Offer Additional Reassurances to Landlords?

If you’re struggling to find an apartment due to a failed background check, consider offering additional reassurances to potential landlords. Some ideas include:

  • Offer a larger security deposit

A larger deposit can help alleviate a landlord’s concerns about potential financial risks associated with renting to you.

  • Provide a co-signer

If you have a friend or family member with good credit and stable employment, they may be willing to co-sign your lease. This additional security can make the landlord more comfortable with renting to you.

  • Show proof of renter’s insurance

Renter’s insurance can help protect both you and the landlord from potential property damage or liability issues. Providing proof of coverage can demonstrate your commitment to being a responsible tenant.

  • Pay rent in advance

Paying a few months of rent upfront can showcase your financial stability and dedication to being a trusted tenant. This gesture can be particularly convincing for landlords who may have concerns based on your background check.

Combining these additional measures with addressing the issues mentioned earlier can make a significant difference in persuading a landlord that you’re a reliable renter.

Wrap Up

If you’ve been denied an apartment because of a failed background check, addressing any issues on your credit report is crucial to improve your chances of getting approved for future rentals. If you find inaccuracies or outdated information, you should file a dispute with the appropriate credit bureaus immediately. 

But if they don’t update their records promptly, you could have grounds for legal action. Don’t hesitate to contact Fair Credit today for assistance in resolving credit report issues and protecting your financial opportunities.

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