Can a bad credit score affect rental applications?
A landlord may check your credit score to work out how trustworthy you are, and whether you'll pay your rental obligations on time. So, can a bad credit score cause you to miss out on renting property?
When looking at your credit score for rental applications, landlords may not see a low score as a reason to instantly reject applications. Some may be more generous, and could be willing to consider a tenant with a lower credit score, or even request some form of additional deposit to act as security against possible future problems.
Alternatively, you may want to consider asking a guarantor to co-sign your lease, which gives the landlord peace of mind as they have an alternate payment source if you cannot make payment.
What if your credit score has dropped for no reason
The importance of checking your credit score regularly is hard to overstate as the changes may not be as relevant to your life, and there may be the occasional error, but what should you do if it drops for no reason?
Credit reporting agencies calculate your credit score based on the information they receive from lenders, banks, credit card providers and utility companies, among others. This report takes into account both the credit enquiries these companies make, as well as your payment history with them, and may include other factors. But because some reports may come in at different times, delays can appear like drops.
Suppose you missed paying a bill while on holidays and the supplier couldn’t reach you, or something like it -- in this instance, the provider may report the default to the credit reporting agency, which can cause your credit score to fall when the credit reporting agency eventually sees the information. Because of an obvious delay, the drop can seem random.
Regularly checking your credit score and the transactions that have appeared can provide some understanding as to why a credit score drop might have occurred, and even provide some understanding as to how you can fix the drop, improving your credit score in the process.
Does borrowing money affect credit score?
Whether it’s through a home loan, a personal loan, or a credit card, borrowing money will affect your credit score. Taking on a home loan or a credit card may have a positive impact on your score, but too many loan applications can bring your credit score down.
Every time you apply for credit, an inquiry is performed against your name. Too many inquiries can reflect negatively on your credit report, and if your loan application is rejected it will negatively impact your credit score.
How you handle your debt can also make a big difference. As long as you make timely payments you may be able to improve your credit score and overall creditworthiness. However, any missed or delayed payments will likely result in a negative impact on your credit score.
What are some advantages of a good credit score?
You should know about the advantages of credit score improvement as there are many occasions when having a good score is helpful. If your credit score is categorised as good, very good, or excellent, it can indicate you have strong borrowing power. This may encourage lenders to give you special discounts on interest rates and other loan terms. You may also find it easier to get approved for a credit card or a property rental. You can also try to negotiate terms using your superior credit score as leverage.
A high credit score indicates that you are financially responsible, but it requires you to be disciplined. If you currently have a good credit score, you still need to remember not to apply too often for credit cards or loans as these can quickly pull down your score. On the one hand, you may have better access to credit, but your good financial habits mean that you may not need to access this credit. Having some credit products can help build up your credit report, and therefore your credit score. You would just need to keep the debt and limits to a minimum and pay the bills on time. It’s never advisable to take out credit that you can’t afford to pay as it negatively impacts your credit history. Even if you have a good credit score, you can always improve it further.
What can impact my credit score?
Your credit score isn't set in stone and can change with every financial decision and action you take. While you checking your score is a soft check and won't impact the result, payments and other actions can affect the score.
The very things that can impact your credit score include your payment history (late or on time), the age and type of credit you have and owe, your debt balance (both current and delinquent, if any), recent payment behaviour, the credit available to you presently, and if you have any court judgements or actions resulting form bankruptcy.
Australia's Comprehensive Credit Reporting (CCR) also tracks your positive payments, and allows your credit score to be impacted positively, as well.
Do landlords check credit scores?
For landlords, credit score checks can tell if a potential tenant has a history of delayed or missed rent payments. Usually, a poor record of repayments is likely to result in a low credit score. Also, your credit history may include information from tenancy databases such as the number of times landlords have inquired about your credit score.
If there are too many inquiries within a short time, landlords may conclude that you have had issues renting in the past. However, there is no rule as to when landlords check your credit score. Some might check every time they receive a tenant’s application. In some cases, landlords may even rent out their property to tenants with a poor credit history if they can submit additional documents or sufficiently explain their situation and how they are trying to address it.
What credit score do landlords look for?
Landlords may look for issues relating to repayment rather than a specific credit score, although a low credit score probably suggests that you’ve had repayment issues. In general, if your credit score is categorised good, very good, or excellent - which corresponds to an Equifax credit score range of 622 - 1,200, landlords may not scrutinise your credit history too closely.
Does a credit score check impact your credit score?
You may have heard that when a bank or lender performs a credit check, that it can impact credit score. But checking your own credit score isn't the same, and won't affect your credit score in the same way.
There are two types of credit checks that can be recorded in your credit history: hard credit checks and soft credit checks.
Hard credit checks occur when you apply to borrow money from a bank or lender, such as when you apply for a credit card or loan. A soft credit checks occur when your credit file is accessed outside of applications to borrow money, such as when you check your own credit score or credit history.
Checking your credit score is a request for information and not an application to borrow money, so it should not affect a lender’s decision to accept or decline your credit applications. As such, it's a soft credit check, and is unlikely to affect your credit score, positively or negatively.
Why should I check my credit score annually?
You may not need to get your free credit rating every year, but it can help you stay informed. A yearly free credit report can help Australians keep track of the impact of various financial transactions on their credit score.
Your credit score helps inform financial organisations, particularly lenders, about the sort of payer you are. Depending on how you've paid down debt in the past, it will have affected your credit score in various ways. In Australia, the inclusion of Comprehensive Credit Reporting (CCR) means that you can find out which transactions affect your credit score positively, as well those that have a negative impact.
Because of this, you may want to consider getting a free credit report once a year irrespective of whether you’re planning to apply for a loan or take on other debt. Checking your credit report can tell you if there are errors in your credit file, which affect your credit score and need to be corrected.