Landlords have the right to run a background check on any potential tenant.
This is to ensure that the person they are renting to is not a danger to themselves or other building residents.
But how long does a background check take for an apartment, and what do these checks entail?
Read on for an in-depth look at apartment background checks, how long they take, and what information is typically included.
How Apartment Background Checks Can benefit the Landlord?
Background checks are something that many landlords and property managers opt to have done on prospective tenants to protect both their investments and their companies.
Apartment background checks and application fees are two methods that landlords can use to limit the pool of applicants to those who are more likely to follow the rules and regulations, pay their rent punctually, and not cause any damage to the unit or building.
While some landlords might choose not to run background checks on every applicant, doing so can help avoid potential problems.
Also Read: 10 Best Advanced Background Check Sites
Time Duration for an Apartment Background Check
Typically, an apartment background check will take between three to five days to complete.
However, some landlords or property managers might use a service that can provide results within a few hours.
It’s important to note that the time it takes to complete a background check can vary depending on the type of apartment background check being performed.
For example, a criminal background check will usually take longer than a credit check.
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What Is Included in an Apartment Background Check?
Although the specifics of apartment background checks might differ from one landlord to the next, there are several important aspects that are always included.
These include the following:
Rental history is probably the most crucial element of an apartment background check.
So the landlords want to know whether or not you have a history of paying rent on time and if you have ever been evicted.
Your rental history will also show how long you have lived at each previous address, which can be important for landlords looking for tenants who are likely to stay in their units for an extended period.
Landlords often require tenants to earn three times the monthly rent to qualify for an apartment, so your employment history will be checked to ensure that you meet this criterion.
They’ll check your income, make sure you work where you say you work and see how long you’ve been in that position.
If you’re self-employed, landlords might ask for tax returns or other financial documents in order to verify your income.
If you’ve recently started a new job, don’t worry, you can get a reference letter to show that you’re employed and have a good income.
Criminal history includes not just convictions but also any other legal or civil troubles you may have had.
This indicates that any current lawsuits or cases that have been dismissed will also show up in the search results for your name.
Keep in mind that ongoing cases and non-convictions remain on your record for up to seven years, whereas convictions remain indefinitely.
Your credit score is one of the most important elements of your background check. Landlords use your credit score to determine whether or not you’re likely to pay your rent on time.
A good credit score means you have a history of making payments on time, whereas a bad credit score means you might be more likely to default on your rent payments.
Also Check 5 Best Tenant Background Check Sites
How Far Back Can Apartment Background Checks Go?
According to TransUnion, a credit check goes back ten years.
Negative information, including poor credit history, loan defaulting, car repossession, etc., stays on your credit reports for up to seven years.
So when a landlord pulls up a background check report on you, they will be able to access information for up to seven years easily.
However, the good thing is that the criteria for rejecting or accepting a tenant’s application should be the same.
A landlord cannot accept or reject a person on a set of standards and another on a different set of standards.
This helps in protecting the tenant, and not adhering to the same can violate federal fair housing laws.
Are Apartment Background Checks Costly?
When applying for an apartment, most landlords ask you to pay an application fee.
This applicantion fees could range from $30-$50 and cover the cost of the background check.
The amount can be higher than this, however, depending on your state, area, or landlord. Some states, however, put a limit on how much landowners can charge the applicants.
So we advise you to check your local state laws before paying any hefty amount as application fees.
Do All Apartment Owners Do Background Check?
Yes, most independent landlords and apartment communities ask for a background check to safeguard themselves against any potential danger.
If you have applied to an apartment community and have any negative information on your report, then the chances that they will accept your application would be less.
However, independent landlords might accept your application because, with them, you can have a one-on-one conversation and explain any discrepancies.
Red Flags in an Apartment Background Check You Shouldn’t Ignore
Here are some common red flags that homeowners look for in an apartment background check:
- Criminal activity
- Frequent moves
- Inconsistencies in report
- Misleading information
- Poor employment history
- Low credit score
You can always explain yourself and talk with the landlord if you have any negative information listed on your report.
Also, sometimes incorrect or old information can appear on your background check report.
If such a thing happens and your application gets rejected, then the landlord will share the reason for the rejection with you.
Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the landlord to share the reason for rejection with the applicant.
So if you come across any wrong information about yourself in the report, then you can always get it removed or updated.
Also Read: What Does A Background Check Show?
Now that you know how long a background check takes for an apartment and what’s included in one, you can start looking for your next home with confidence.
Just remember to be honest on your application and provide any requested documentation in a timely manner.
What would make me fail a background check?
Landlords look for some key red flags that we have mentioned in the article above.
Having any of those on your background check report can fail you in a background check.
How long does a background check takes?
It can take anywhere between 3-4 days to get your background check results.
The duration depends on the type of background check platform your landlord is using.
Why does a background check take so long?
Background checks include reports on a person’s education, crime report, eviction reports, etc. acquiring, which may take some time.
Shefali Jain is a Content Writer & Editor at USWorkforce.org
After completing her graduation in hospitality, Shefali decided to follow her passion and started writing. Shefali has been writing for two years now and contributes to our website as a skilled editor and content writer with strong research skills. Writing product and service reviews, biographies, and book reviews are some of her key areas, among many others in which she specializes. In her time at the organization, she has written and edited content on a range of topics, including employment law, human resources, and business management.
The US Workforce has a policy of producing high-quality content that follows industry standards by using primary sources, such as white papers and government data, alongside original reporting from reputable publishers. We also follow an editorial style where appropriate information about the topic can be found with due credit given when applicable.