When you apply to rent a home or apartment, it's not unusual for the owner or manager to require a credit check -- and to charge a fee to recover the cost of purchasing it.
If it's your credit standing, do you have a right to see what the landlord saw? That's what a Credit.com reader wanted to know. Corinna asked us: "When an agency runs a credit check, am I entitled to a copy? I paid a $20 fee for a rental and would like a copy."
The short answer is, "No, the rental company doesn't need to give the consumer the report," says National Consumer Law Center attorney Persis Yu.
However, that doesn't mean Corinna can't see her credit report. First, anyone who is turned down (or charged more) due to something in their credit reports is entitled to a free copy of their report from the credit reporting agency that supplied it to the landlord (or other creditor). The landlord must give a written notice providing the name and address of the credit bureau that supplied the information, and explain how to get a free copy of the credit report. If the landlord used a credit score, that three-digit number must be disclosed along with some basic consumer information about credit scores. (Here's a really great guide to help you read and understand your credit report.)
But if you are approved, you do not have the right to see the report the landlord pulled.
Because your credit standing figures so prominently in the rental process, it's smart to check your credit before you apply. If you find an error in your reports, you can dispute it. (And if you find an error in one, check the other two and dispute those as well if necessary. Generally the three agencies don't share information with one another.) And just knowing what your landlord will see can help you prepare. If you have some credit damage from when you were ill or unemployed, for example, you can be prepared to explain that. It's better if any negative information doesn't come as a surprise.
You can see where you stand with a free credit report summary, updated every 30 days, from Credit.com. You'll also get a personalized plan for improving your credit. Everyone is entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies every 12 months as well.
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