Pressed for time? Here’s what you need to know.
Historically, credit reports don’t include rent payments. Why? Because rent isn’t considered debt. As we all know, landlords and property managers don’t lend us rent money each month to be repaid later with interest.
Until 2010, the only time rent payments would show up on your credit report is if you have late or missing payments. If your landlord sells the rent you owe to a collections agency, then it becomes debt. This information will definitely appear on your credit report and can negatively affect your credit score. Since 2010, on-time payments can be included in your credit report.
If you have a stellar track record of on-time rent payments, that can be a great way to show lenders that you’re a responsible consumer. A history of on-time rent payments can also help you build credit without taking on additional debt. It can even boost your credit score.
How can rent payments help me build credit?
When it comes to applying for loans, payment history carries a lot of weight. This makes sense. If you’re lending someone money, you’d probably want to make sure they’ll pay you back. Lenders want this peace of mind, too. They’ll look at your payment history to see if you’re someone who will repay in a timely manner.
A stellar track record of on-time rent payments can be a great way to show lenders you’ll have no problems doing so. The proof? You pay your rent on time every month! Having on-time rent payment history in your credit report can help you demonstrate good character. This could increase your chances of getting a loan or credit card approved. It may even help you snatch that next apartment.
Appearing responsible on your credit report is different from improving your actual credit score. Your credit score is calculated from the information on your credit report. FICO Score 8 is the credit score model most lenders use to assess your creditworthiness. This model doesn’t include rent payment histories in its calculations, which means on-time rent payments won’t boost your score.
Newer credit scoring models, such as the FICO Score 9, FICO XD, and VantageScore, do include rent payments in its calculations. For these models, on-time rental payments can boost your credit score, especially if you don’t have much history or your credit needs repairing.
For example, Esusu’s rent reporting service has helped over 1,200 individuals with no credit history establish prime scores. Users have seen their credit scores increase by an average of 47 points after using the service for 12 months.
While you can’t determine which credit score or which bureau’s credit report lenders review (the most diligent will check several), having on-time rent payments on your credit report can still help you demonstrate your creditworthiness.
What rent information is on my credit report?
Unless your landlord reports it, rental information will not appear on your credit report. It doesn’t matter if you have on-time, late, or missing payments. Evictions, bounced checks, broken leases, and property damage also won’t automatically appear on your credit report.
The only times your payment information, eviction, broken leases, and property will show up on your credit report is if:
- Your landlord reports it to the credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax).
- Your account is sent or sold to a collection agency. This could happen if you owe rent or broke your lease, etc.
- The court has gotten involved. This could happen if you are being evicted or broke your lease, etc.
The information on your credit report will vary with each credit bureau. This is mostly because not all businesses and landlords will report to all three. However, all credit reports contain four sections. Here’s what rent information would show up in each:
- Personal Information. Any address at which you’ve received a bill will show up in this section, along with other basic information such as your name and birthday.
- Credit Accounts or Trade lines. This section contains detailed information on every credit account you have. It includes information such as when your account was opened, credit limits, co-signers, balances, and payment histories.
If your rental payments are being reported to the credit bureaus, it would show up in this section under payment histories. Remember, payment histories make up 35% of your FICO credit score. Your rental payment history would only factor into some, but not all credit scores. However, even if rent payments are not included in a credit score, anyone reviewing your credit report will be able to see it in this section if it’s reported.
If your landlord has sold your missing rent payments to a debt buyer or handed-over to a collections agency, it would appear in this section as well. Even if you’re paying or have paid off your debt, debt collection agencies can continue reporting to credit bureaus for 7 years.
- Public records. This is information from your local, state, and federal government regarding bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens, properties bought, and other court judgements.
If you’ve received an eviction notice from a court or if the courts have gotten involved in rental property or lease disputes, it would appear in this section of your credit report. To avoid this, try to work through disputes with your landlord before they or you take legal action.
- Credit inquiries. This section is a list of all the companies and individuals who’ve requested a copy of your credit report in the past two years.
If you’ve checked your own credit report or it’s been checked for any business purposes, it appears as a soft inquiry. If you’ve applied for credit and a lender checks it, it’ll appear as a hard inquiry. A hard inquiry can affect your credit score, but a soft inquiry will not.
For example, if your landlord checks your credit report and score as part of the tenant screening process, it would show up in this section as a soft inquiry and disappear after two years. This check will not affect your credit score.
How can I include rent payments in my credit report?
Most credit reports don’t include any rent payment history. However, this information can be included if you or your landlord chooses to report it to credit bureaus.
- Check with your landlord or property manager. Your landlord or property manager may already be reporting your rental payment history to the credit bureaus with the help of Esusu. If not, ask them to register for Esusu’s rent reporting service on your behalf.
- Report it yourself. If your landlord or property manager doesn’t want to report your rental payments to credit bureaus, you can sign-up with Esusu yourself. For $50 a year, we help report all your rent payments to TransUnion and Equifax. Learn more and sign up.
Including rent payment history in your credit report is a great way to build credit while avoiding debt. Without opening new lines of credit, you don’t have to worry about interest rates or late fees. All you have to do is pay rent on time.
Recap and Conclusion
Historically, rent payments haven’t been included in credit reports since they’re not debt. In recent years, lenders are realizing on-time rent payments can be the sign of a reliable payer. If you are someone with little to no credit history, looking to avoid taking on additional or new debt, or have had credit issues in the past, it may be worth using rental payment histories to help you build and/or repair credit.
“Credit Reports and Credit Scores.” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Accessed July 19, 2021. https://www.federalreserve.gov/creditreports/pdf/credit_reports_scores_2.pdf
“Does an Eviction Affect Your Credit?” Rocket Lawyer. March 26, 2021. https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/does-an-eviction-affect-your-credit-929317
“Free Credit Reports.” Federal Trade Commission. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/free-credit-reports
Sandberg, Erica. “Is My Rental History on My Credit Report?” July 23, 2020. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/is-my-rental-history-on-my-credit-report/
“What’s in my FICO scores?” My Fico. Accessed July 19, 2021. https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/whats-in-your-credit-score
“Will my rent payments show up on my credit report?” Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. July 11, 2019. https://privacyrights.org/resources/will-my-rent-payments-show-my-credit-report