Credit Building Tips

Which Credit Score Do Apartments Look At - Transunion or Equifax?

Shaun Connell
June 30, 2023

Are you hunting for a new place and you're wondering which credit score apartments look at when you apply?

The notion that landlords and property managers will run a credit check before renting an apartment to you can seem a bit mysterious. How do they get your credit scores? What information do they scrutinize?

Solution icon Every landlord and property manager will have their own criteria they judge applicants by. Some might not check your credit at all, while others might run full credit checks and background checks.

There are a number of services that can be used to obtain a prospective tenant's credit report. Depending on how a landlord gets this information, it will impact which credit bureau your info is being pulled from and what credit scoring model is used.

How Do Apartments Check My Credit?

When you're looking for a new apartment, you'll likely find that potential landlords want to run a "credit check." Since it is a common practice for landlords or property managers to check your credit, your credit file can have a big impact on your apartment search.

interior of apartment with credit score check

The term "credit check" can ultimately mean a number of different things. For example, some landlords might just check your credit score and verify your identity. Others might pull your credit, run a background check, and even look at county records, social media, and bank statements.

Some of the ways a landlord or property manager might check your credit include:

  • Purchasing tenant credit reports from landlord associations
  • Using a tenant screening service
  • Using one of the three major credit bureaus

Landlord Associations

Landlords can sometimes obtain tenant credit reports using organizations like the National Association of Independent Landlords.

The credit check might be a hard inquiry, depending on the particular association they are getting the report from. Hard inquiries (also known as "hard pulls") can make your credit score go down a bit for a brief period of time.

Tenant Screening Services

There are a number of different tenant screening services out there, some of which offer credit reports for property managers and landlords.

  • The information available about a tenant will depend on the particular service used.

Some common types of info access through these services include:

  • Credit reports
  • Eviction records
  • Criminal background check
  • Bankruptcy history
  • Rental history
  • Employment and income verification
  • Identity verification

Some services might simply allow landlords to enter a desired range for credit scores and then see whether or not a potential applicant qualifies based on the parameters they set.

Credit Bureaus

There are also a number of credit screening products available through the three major credit bureaus-- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

These inquiries are often only considered soft inquiries. This means that it won't have an impact on your credit score and won't even be visible to anyone other than you on your credit report.

In some cases, you might have to initiate the credit check as the renter.

  • Experian: Rental applicants can purchase their credit report for $19.95 online and give access to prospective landlords for up to 30 days. In this report, potential landlords won't be able to see personal information such as account numbers or social security numbers.
  • TransUnion: Landlords can pay to see the credit report of potential tenants, or they can have applicants pay the fee. Applicants have to give permission for landlords to view their credit information.
  • Equifax: Equifax provides the longest credit history for prospective landlords out of all three bureaus-- 81 months.

Which Credit Score Do Apartments Look At - Transunion or Equifax?

The answer to this question is-- it depends.

The credit report that is used to calculate your credit score when you are applying to an apartment is going to depend on a number of factors.

apartment rented with high credit score

When you request your credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies-- Transunion, Equifax, and Experian-- usually, there won't be a credit score on the document.

However, you can typically purchase your credit score from the credit bureaus or access a free credit score through:

  • Your credit card issuers
  • Your financial institutions
  • A third-party service like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame

There are two primary credit scoring models, which are:

  • FICO
  • VantageScore

The fact that different credit scoring models can be used in combination with different credit reports actually means that you have several credit scores.

Credit Scores From Landlord Associations

Whether a landlord association will offer your FICO or VantageScore will depend on their standard practices. Beyond that, which credit report they pull your information from can depend as well.

Credit Scores From Tenant Screening Services

There are a number of different tenant screening services out there, including:

  • RentPrep
  • RentSpree
  • DoorLoop
  • Leaserunner
  • FirstAdvantage
  • E-Renter
  • VeriFirst
  • RealPage
  • BetterNOI

Which credit score your prospective landlord sees will depend on the practices of the service. That being said, FICO scores are more commonly used by landlords than the VantageScore model.

Credit Scores From the Credit Bureaus

If your landlord is using Equifax to check your credit, they'll see a FICO score. If they use Experian, they'll see a VantageScore. Through TransUnion's services, they'll access a score known as the ResidentScore, specifically designed to predict the likelihood of evictions for a tenant.

  • Equifax Resident Screening Services: Provides credit reports from all three credit bureaus and a FICO credit score.
  • Experian Connect: Provides a VantageScore calculated using a tenant's Experian credit report along with other credit information.
  • TransUnion SmartMove: This service is also known as TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions. It provides a ResidentScore, specifically designed to help landlords predict evictions, along with several other tenant screening services.

What Exactly Are Landlords Looking For in My Credit Report?

Landlords might check one of your credit scores, or they might do a more thorough dive into your credit report and other aspects of your financial history.

Some smaller landlords might not even check your credit score, but this is less and less common.

Typically, landlords know that actually looking at the details of a credit report is more useful than just looking at a credit score. A person's credit score can be severely damaged by identity theft or an outrageous medical bill, for example, even if they have otherwise been a responsible borrower.

When a landlord does choose to look at a credit report, they'll likely look at the following:

  • Payment history: Landlords will want to see that you pay off your debt consistently and on time. It's common for landlords to look at the payment history of a prospective tenant for the previous two years. When an individual has a healthy payment history, it's an indication that they will likely pay their rent on time.
  • Rental history: Rental history can sometimes appear on credit reports depending on the bureau. This can give landlords more information about whether rent will be paid on time.
  • Collection items: Landlords might also look at collection accounts on a prospective tenant's credit report. That being said, they might give different weight to items like unpaid utility bills versus medical bills and student loans.
  • Public records: Other things that landlords might look for are evictions and bankruptcy, which can both be red flags. That being said, evictions no longer show up on credit reports as public records of civil suit judgments are no longer on credit reports.

What Credit Score Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?

The credit score you'll need to be approved for an apartment is going to depend on the particular landlord or property manager. Every apartment complex or landlord is going to have their own rubric for evaluating whether a tenant is a good candidate for an apartment.

Though there is no set credit score minimum for renting an apartment, many landlords will look for a score of at least 600.

That being said, you'll typically find that most landlords and property managers will want you to have a credit score above 600.

Both FICO scores and VantageScores range from 300 to 850. The higher your credit score, the more appealing you appear as a renter because it shows you've managed your finances responsibly. Lower credit scores, on the other hand, can indicate that you might have a hard time paying your full rent on time every time.

Credit Scores and the Apartment Search: FAQs

Finding an apartment can be incredibly stressful regardless of your credit score. When you're credits seen better days, the whole search can feel particularly disheartening. Let's take a look at some of the most common questions about credit scores and renting an apartment.

The more information you have, the better prepared you'll be during the application process.

Do All Landlords Check Your Credit Score?

Reviewing the credit history of a prospective tenant is common practice for many landlords. However, that doesn't mean that all of them will check your credit score or pull your credit report when you are applying for apartments.

  • Every landlord is going to have their own criteria for evaluating rental applications.

In addition to (or in lieu of) credit scores and credit reports, they might look to other factors to make a decision, including:

  • Rental history
  • Income verification
  • Personal references
  • Public Records

Which Types of Landlords Are More Likely to Require a Credit Check?

Of course, every landlord is going to be different. However, if you're worried about your credit it's worth understanding, in general, which types of landlords are more or less likely to check your credit.

For example, you're much more likely to have your credit checked if you're applying for a place through one of the following:

  • Apartment complexes: There is usually a well-defined and strict application process, a part of which involves credit checks. There are often set requirements and guidelines with large-scale rental communities and apartment complexes, meaning there's going to be less flexibility if your credit score doesn't meet the requirements.
  • Apartments managed by property management companies:  Big property management companies that are responsible for a large portfolio of rentals will usually check your credit. The screening process often has specific criteria that they follow for all applicants.
  • High-end or luxury rentals: The more expensive the rent and the nicer the apartment, the more likely your credit will be checked as a part of the process.
  • Corporate rentals: Short-term rentals that are intended for professionals that are relocating or on short-term assignments will usually run a credit check as a part of the screening process.
  • Rental agencies: If you're working with a real estate agency or rental agency to find a place, they're most likely going to check your credit. These agencies work with landlords to help them find tenants that fit within specific criteria.

Which Types of Landlords Are Less Likely to Require a Credit Check?

If you have bad credit or no credit, you might be wondering where you can apply where your credit won't be a problem.

While it's hard to generalize, you might want to look into the following types of rental situations and landlords:

  • Small independent landlords: Landlords that only one small handful of rental units can be less likely to check a potential tenant's credit. They might, instead, rely on rental history, personal references, income verification, and other factors.
  • Renting from friends and family: Of course, another option is to rent from someone that you have a personal relationship with. This could mean a friend or a family member.
  • Individual homeowners: Sometimes, a homeowner will rent out an extra room, a basement apartment, or a mother-in-law suite to make some extra money. They might not always check your credit. Instead, they might be more interested in finding a compatible tenant from a personality and schedule standpoint.
  • Non-traditional arrangements: There are a number of alternative rental situations where tenant evaluation might incorporate different criteria. For example, depending on the situation, finding a room in an apartment with roommates or subletting a place might not require a credit check. In these types of arrangements, the tenant selection process might be more focused on things like lifestyle preferences, shared interests, and compatibility.

Can I Rent an Apartment If I Have a Low Credit Score?

There are a lot of different factors that a landlord or property manager will take into account when choosing a tenant. This means that your credit scores and the information on your credit reports are just a portion of the equation.

Beyond that, not every landlord even looks at credit scores. Though you'll be hard-pressed to find a big property manager that doesn't check credit scores, smaller mom-and-pop landlords might not check prospective tenants' credit.

Even if they check your credit, it's important to remember that other factors could help you qualify. For example, they might verify your income and employment. They could additionally use a tenant screening agency to do a background check.

In short, having a bad credit score doesn't necessarily mean that you can't rent an apartment. Some landlords might look at the entire application as a whole if they find that the score comes back just a bit short. You also might find that explaining the circumstance that led to a low credit score helps you in your search for an apartment.

Can I Rent an Apartment With No Credit?

Sometimes, the hardest part of the credit journey is just getting started. If you don't have any credit at all, how are you supposed to start building credit or get your own apartment?

One of the easiest ways to go about this is to find a family member or a friend that has good credit that will co-sign your lease.

  • This means that they will be responsible for rent payments if you fall behind.
  • By having a co-signer, landlords are taking on less risk.

At the same time, you'll want to ensure you're signing a lease you can pay for every month. Otherwise, you're putting your family member or friend in a rough position and potentially damaging their credit.

  • If you make a certain number of payments on time, it's possible that your property manager or landlord will agree to change your lease to only your name.

Another option is to offer to pay several months of rent right at the beginning. While this might not be financially possible for everyone, paying for several months can help reduce the risk for the landlord and get your foot in the door.

What Will Make a Landlord Reject an Application?

Most landlords and property managers understand that people's finances can be a bit messy. They aren't necessarily looking for you to have an 850 credit score.

That being said, there are some derogatory marks that can lead them to turn down a prospective renter. This can be the case even if their credit score falls within the acceptable range.

  • For many landlords, things like car repossessions and credit card charge-offs are red flags.
  • Even one instance among otherwise positive credit can be a deal breaker.

When landlords look at an entire tenant screening report, such as one that includes public records and other information, they also might reject applicants that have criminal convictions or past evictions.

Improving Your Credit Can Improve Your Life

When you're applying for apartments, your prospective landlord or property manager could use any number of services to check your credit. Some might only look at your credit score range, while others might dig into your personal credit history and background check.

Depending on the service, your information could be pulled from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Beyond that, the credit score they see could be calculated using either the FICO or VantageScore model.

This can mean it's difficult to know what score your potential landlord will be looking at. One of the best things you can do to prepare for the housing search is to request a free copy of each of your credit reports using This is the federally authorized site put together by the three major bureaus.

Even though you might not always know precisely how your credit report will be interpreted when you apply for an apartment, knowing what's in your report can help you prepare to provide context.

Looking at your credit report ahead of time can also help you dispute any errors or inaccuracies before a landlord takes a look and evaluates whether you'd be a good tenant. If it's time for you to clean up your credit, check out our Credit Building Tips blog.

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell is a personal finance and credit expert with a passion for helping individuals eliminate debt and improve their credit. He's enjoyed writing investing and financial content for over 15 years, with expertise in real estate, debt, banking, credit, and wealth building. His work has been seen by millions on the web.

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