Property management companies handle oversight issues for rental properties like apartments, homes, condos and townhouses. If you submit a lease application, the company may look over your credit report as part of its review process. It does this to see how financially responsible you're likely to be as a tenant and to find out if you had housing-related financial problems in the past.
Your credit score is a number between 300 and 850 that indicates how financially responsible you are. A low score usually means you’ve missed a lot of payments, defaulted on loans or had major financial problems like bankruptcies or repossessions. A high score indicates you're paying your bills on time and that few if any companies have had to send your account to collections or take you to court over past-due debts. A property management company wants tenants who are likely to deliver their rent checks on time every time.
While evictions don't always show up on a credit report, it’s something a property management company looks for when reviewing your credit history. A foreclosure or short sale is also a red flag. If a previous landlord had to take steps to get you out of a rental property due to nonpayment, it’s a warning that you're a high-risk renter. In other words, there's a chance you may not pay your rent on time and it could be difficult for the property manager to justify taking you on as a renter.
The management company also looks at the kinds of debt you carry and how responsibly you manage your money. If your credit report shows you have a number of maxed-out credit cards, for example, it may indicate you don't manage your money very well and might not be able to pay rent on schedule. Since your lease application probably includes information about your job and your income, the company will also assess your debt-to-income ratio. In other words, they want to see how much money you have left to pay your rent after paying your other bills.
A property manager typically screens applicants, leases properties, collects rent and makes minor repairs. If your credit report shows creditors had to take extreme measures to get their money back from you, the management company may think you'll be a less attractive tenant than someone with a more favorable credit history. Even if you get approved for a lease, you might have to make a bigger security deposit than an applicant with a stronger financial track record.
Lisa McQuerrey has been an award-winning writer and author for more than 25 years. She specializes in business, finance, workplace/career and education. Publications she’s written for include Southwest Exchange and InBusiness Las Vegas.