Should Landlords Accept Credit Reports Directly From Tenants?

landlord writing on clipboard

One of the greatest fears of being a landlord is tenants who don’t pay rent. Landlords can get a good indication of a tenant’s future financial situation by screening tenants using credit checks as part of their rental application. Landlords should understand the importance of running their own credit checks on prospective tenants.

What's wrong with accepting credit reports directly from tenants?

While obtaining credit information, landlords should understand the risks associated with accepting reports directly from prospective tenants.

Missing Information

The best way for a landlord to predict if a tenant can make future rent payments is to examine their credit history. While it can be quick for tenants to provide a screenshot of their credit score from places like Credit Karma, Borrowell or their bank, these reports don’t offer enough information. The credit score alone is not enough to make an informative decision as it does not explain the breakdown of the actual credit history. Only viewing the credit score, landlords miss out on other important information such as late payments, the outstanding debt amount, collections and more. Not all reports provide the necessary information needed for landlords to make the best decision while screening tenants.

Outdated Information

While it can be common for a tenant to hand out the same credit report during their rental search, not having the most up-to-date information on the credit report could be misleading. Even a time delay of a week or two could misrepresent the current standings of the tenant’s financial health. It’s important for landlords to see the most recent credit information to have the most accurate indication of the tenants’ payment behaviour.

Altered Information

Landlords should think twice before accepting credit reports directly from tenants. As technology advances and editing software is widely available, receiving altered reports is becoming more common for landlords. Unfortunately, since tenants may have many sources of credit reports, it can be difficult to figure out what is authentic. The only way to ensure the accuracy of the report is for landlords to run them themselves.

For example, a man in the Greater Toronto area is charged for using fraudulent identification documents to obtain multiple rentals to create rooming-houses for his own income. He would submit altered credit reports and fake references and names, and once occupying the property he would stop paying rent and list out rooms on Kijiji. One landlord of his said she was tricked. She explained he had no red flags but later found out all of the documents he provided turned were fake. In the end, this landlord was only lucky to have him evicted due to a fire code violation. At the time of this eviction, it would be his sixth case with a landlord that brought criminal charges against him and at least five more trying to evict him. This case is a strong example of the risks landlords have when accepting reports directly from tenants.

Why landlords should run their own credit checks?

Landlords can reduce their risk of delinquent tenants by running their own credit reports. Reviewing credit information is an important step in screening prospective tenants, it’s even more important to ensure you’re reviewing accurate information. Accepting only the credit score may leave out a lot of information such as late payments, debt types, and the amount of credit outstanding. It’s hard to understand a prospective tenant’s payment behaviour without the full picture. Running a credit report for each applicant not only protects against fraudulent documents but also allows landlords to view the most recent information available.

How can landlords run credit checks?

Landlords can use SingleKey to run credit and background checks on prospective tenants. Each tenant report offers an upgraded Equifax credit report that includes a tradelines breakdown which can help better examine payment behaviour. Landlords can view the credit score, debt summaries, late payment history, outstanding debt, bankruptcies, collections and more. SingleKey also includes a background check which looks for social profiles, criminal background history, past evictions, past employment, etc. All these factors can allow landlords to have a more accurate prediction of the tenant’s future financial situation.

Conclusion: Using Verified Reports Reduces Risk

SingleKey allows landlords to run credit checks on prospective tenants without running the risk of receiving inaccurate and outdated reports. It’s easy for tenants to get a free credit report, but those rarely have enough information for landlords to get the complete picture. Landlords who accept credit checks directly from the tenants run the risk of receiving altered reports. Landlords can manage their risks by running their own credit checks.

As it becomes more important and prevalent for landlords to request a credit check as part of their rental application, it’s worth doing it right. Don’t risk your rental income on self-reporting tenants; get all the information you need to make the right decision with SingleKey.

Get a reliable report in only 5 minutes

SingleKey’s reports only take five minutes! The rental space is a fast-paced environment, where every minute counts before the good tenants move on. Landlords can expect to receive reliable reports in the time it takes to make a good cup of coffee. 

Busy landlords, or simply ones who dislike coffee, have the option to send invites to prospective tenants via email to fill in their own applications. Reports are ready once completed!