How to pass a background check from your landlord

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How to pass a background check from your landlord


Are you looking to rent a new property or sign a new tenancy agreement? You might think all you need to get sorted are your finances and maybe a removal company. But that’s not everything. You see, not everyone gets accepted by landlords. They have the right to perform a few different background checks on you, not only to make sure your finances and money-management skills are in check, but also things like criminal records and other issues that might make you an undesirable tenant.

By Editorial Team | 18th May 2019
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If you want to know more about the sorts of checks landlords are allowed to carry out, along with some important advice and tips on how to pass them, then you’re in the right place. Keep reading to find out…

What background checks do landlords carry out?

While landlords aren’t required to, and not all of them do – they do have the ability to carry out extensive background checks on potential tenants like you. While some of this information might seem unnecessary for a landlord to compile, they do have the ability to use background checking companies to come up with an extensive list detailing your past actions. You could argue that some of these are irrelevant for a tenancy agreement, and while a landlord should not discriminate on certain areas like race or disability, some of the information in a background check can count against you. So what can these background checks look at?

Standard things like personal details will be recorded, along with a tenant’s income. This is important for a landlord to see, so they know you’ll be able to afford to keep up payments. While they will have some discretion to rent their property to people on a range of incomes, they’ll generally prefer someone who clearly has the income to be able to afford the property. They may include a rent-to-income calculation to really work out whether you can afford it.

After this, they’ll probably want to look at your credit score. While this is associated with your finances, it isn’t the same as simply having the income to justify the tenancy agreement. Your credit score will show things like if you’ve missed payments or ever had debt collectors visit you. If you’ve had trouble keeping up payments in the past, this will cause your credit score to be low and could put many landlords off. They want to know you’re a secure and reliable person to lend to, and your credit score will reveal whether this is the case.

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Find out what background checks landlord carry out (Picture: iStock by Getty)

They may also look at your address/rental history. Having rented properties before could be a good indication of a good renter, as opposed to someone who simply hasn’t rented in the past up until now. They may also look at your employment history to see how stable an employee you are. If you lose your job regularly, this might be seen as an indication you may not be able to keep up repayments.

Other things landlords can look up in background checks on potential tenants include looking to see what loans you have (and how you’ve kept up repayments), bankruptcies, civil judgements, eviction records, criminal records and fraud indicators. You can probably guess how these might negatively affect your tenancy application, but we’ll have a look at them in a bit more detail shortly.

What counts as a red flag in a tenant background check?

As you’ve probably already seen, a landlord can carry out a wide range of checks on the background of a tenant. How much they look for and how much importance they place on each individual part of the check can vary from landlord to landlord.

Obviously, having a criminal record can have a big impact, but this will depend on the landlord and what their preferences are. It might also depend on the crimes you’ve been convicted of. Other things like eviction notices will also be looked at negatively by your landlord. If you’ve been evicted from rented property before, then you won’t be seen as a very appealing tenant.

Things like bankruptcies, credit ratings and other bank activity can also have a negative impact on your application. While your employment history shouldn’t be the first thing a landlord looks at, it could have an impact if you keep losing your job. All of the things a landlord looks at could affect your tenancy application. Generally, if you only have one or two minor issues, you should be ok – but if the whole check is throwing up red flags, each one will make your application even less likely to succeed.

How to pass a background check
  • Have a good employment record. If you keep getting sacked, a landlord won’t want to risk letting you rent. Remain employed for long periods of time
  • Fix your credit rating. There are tons of things you can do to fix your credit score. Some of them might take a while, but your credit rating is a good indicator of how reliable you are to lend to.
  • Earn more. If your income isn’t enough, some landlords might not want to risk letting you rent.
  • Have a clean criminal record. Law abiding citizens are much more likely to get approved for tenancy agreements.
  • Have a good rental history. If you’ve rented before, landlords should see you as a reliable option.
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There are steps you can take to pass a landlord background check (Picture: iStock by Getty)
Where to go for background checks for yourself

If you want to try and keep one step ahead of landlords and fix any problems before they see them, you can carry out the same background checks yourself to see where any issues are and what might come up as red flags. To do this, there are a number of different services you can use like Intelius, US Search, BeenVerified, and Truthfinder.


Having trouble renting a property? Your background might have a number of red flags. Tenant screening has come a long way in the last few years, and if you want to really make sure you’ve got everything covered, you might want to carry out your own landlord background check to see what the issues are.

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Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team is constantly watching for new and exciting services to report on. They aim to bring balanced, honest reviews to the site to give you the best comparisons and ensure you have the knowledge to choose the product right for you. Read more.
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