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You’re about to rent an apartment. You’ve saved for your security deposit and lined up a moving truck. But have you checked your credit report? Landlords may, so you should too. If a landlord does a background check, here are some things to know about your rights.

Landlords can check your credit, criminal history, and even your rental history. They may ask your permission but they’re not required to. So, if you know you’ll be looking for a new place to live – or if you’re about to renew your lease – then here are a few things you can do:

  • Go to to check your credit. That way, you can fix any errors before a landlord sees them.
  • Give the landlord your correct full name—first, middle, and last—and date of birth. This helps make sure the landlord gets information on the right person. 
  • If you have a criminal history or previous housing court actions, gather any paperwork showing how the action was resolved in case you need to fix errors.

Some landlords might say not to apply if you have a criminal record. That could be discrimination. If that happens to you or if you think that a landlord illegally discriminated against you for another reason, such as your race or gender, contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development

What if a landlord refuses to rent to you or charges you more because of something in a background check? Then you have rights:

  • The landlord must give you notice of the action – orally, in writing or electronically.
  • The notice must give you contact information for the company that supplied the report.
  • The notice must tell you about your rights to correct inaccurate information and to get a free copy of the report if you ask for it within 60 days of the landlord’s decision.

You should obtain your free report, fix any errors, and have the company that supplied the report give the corrected report to the landlord. Tell the landlord about the mistake, too. For more information on background reports and your rights, check out the Summary of Rights.

If you think a landlord or property manager violated your rights – or anyone else’s – when using a background check, report it to the FTC. And if you’re a landlord who wants to do the right thing, check out Using Consumer Reports: What Landlords Need to Know.

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November 28, 2016
Very helpful information
November 28, 2016
As the above shows, very little protection for tenants, As here in Arizona, if a Landlord wants you out, all they have to do is say, Get Out, and you have No recourse, and the very little that you do have, is Costly and Time consuming. I'm Not talking about people who are committing Felonies..
November 29, 2016

In reply to by DaveK

Arizona state law ARS § 33-1367 prohibits a landlord from forcing a tenant out of the rental unit unlawfully. It is illegal for a landlord to change the locks on the rental unit or turn off the utilities in order to force a tenant to move out of the rental unit. These kind of practices are called self-help evictions, and Arizona law specifically makes them illegal. If the landlord tries to evict the tenant through a self-help method, the landlord may end up owing the tenant monetary damages.
September 21, 2017

In reply to by DaveK

Good info! We were thinking of relocating to AZ.
Dton't use you…
November 28, 2016
thank you ftc
November 29, 2016

As per how money dictates a renter has no rights when looking for a home, all the rights goes where the big profits are flowing which is the land owners. In Utah a landlord can evict a tenant in 3 days for no reason, look it up.

November 29, 2016
Screen your Land-Lord: make sure they are not Registered Sex Offenders. I would sleep so much better at night fully knowing that unsuspecting Tenants are not being taken advantage of.
November 29, 2016
what I do not like is a person who has no credit rating is treated like they have a poor credit rating. Something wrong there. A person who does not owe still gets discriminated against. In my case I had to pay a higher damage deposit in full without using a credit card.
renter with question
November 30, 2016
I was approved for a lease and I asked the landlord for a copy of the credit report I paid for that was part of his background check fee. He says he doesn't have to give me a copy. Is that correct?
February 27, 2019

In reply to by renter with question

Why r apparment managers not forced to be registered with the state (such as c.n.a., nurse,doctir,lawyer ) they are allowed to collect as much as a million dollars a year. And an u belieavable of fruad, theft of moneys, and unreported moneies are stolen.
Janis E
December 15, 2016
I was denied an apartment with affordable housing for not putting current landlords name, I gave new information to receptionist, she asked for his address, and phone number so when I asked her if she wanted his name she replied "No, this should be enough. I was a bit shocked but more shocked to be denied for something that affordable housings receptionist had done. That denial was in September2016 and that's the $35 background, credit check I paid for. They gave my apartment to someone else and corrected my denial but now it's been 3 months and I feel it's more to what's really going on. This happened in Portland Oregon.
June 12, 2017
Will a restraining order show up on a background check for renting an apartment in Arizona
FTC Staff
June 13, 2017

In reply to by Me2

This FTC article has information about background checks, and the kind of questions an employer can ask you during the hiring process. You can read the article, and follow the links in the article to get more information related to employment.

For information about renting,  you could look at state law about landlords and tenants, or contact your local housing agency to ask about tenants' rights.

July 15, 2017
I have nonviolent, nondrug related charges in Ohio. I am looking for an apartment in Jacksonville, FL. I have been told most apartment complexes only do a state background checks and my charges wont show up. Do you know if this is true?
July 19, 2017
Best part is, when renting you pay up front. Standard these days is first, last and security plus pet deposits (if you're lucky enough to actually find a rental that allows pets). Credit is not being extended to the renter, and each month is paid in advance. If a landlord asks for a credit check, be sure to get one from them too. How does a renter know that their landlord is paying their bills? What if they don't pay their mortgage?
August 16, 2017
I recently applied for a 1 bedroom apt in Pasadena Texas. The manager told me basically I was approved as long as I had no felonies (which I don't) she asked me for a $150 $50 app fee and a $100 was the first months rent because they where running a special $99 move in with no security deposit. They told me they had to do a background check but if everything was ok I could move in 3 days I waited and waited and noone called me back so after 5 days I went into the office and they said I wasn't approved because of 2 misdemeanors! I asked for my $ back and they said they would mail me $100 because $50 was for my background check and it's been over 3 weeks and I still have not received my refund! Every time I call I get a run-a-round and no one knows whats going on. They say the person I need to speak to is out of the office and will have to call me back, but I never receive a call back! What can I do?
July 10, 2020

In reply to by ctressler

If I see a house or apartment with we have to do a background check , I keep on looking because some are con artist going gambling with that apartment fee money.
September 29, 2017
It happened to me to , even right now i am on Housing and I've been going through this for about three different places and now the apartment i am going to , when i went to apply for apartment i ask them if they had a1 bedroom for and they told that they do but they were working on it and it would ready in September25,17 and ask if it was on button apartment they said yes i told them oh good because that's what i was looking for because i can live upstairs because i am surgery for knee replacement then told me that they would save it for that deposit was going to be 200 and 25 for fee and if gave them deposit they would hold until it was ready they never said any about paying more for the deposit that was it until the apartment was ready then the inspection would be on the 25 of September at 9 o'clock in morning so i said ok so fill in the application that i had gave them the money order for the 200for deposit and 25 for the fee and after that i ask them that they need to fill in the application of a moving packages from the housing and i need the lease application on sign until the of inspection then we sign it with inspector so i dropped it off at housing development. So week later i called them so i can go look at apartment so that i know how big it is that why i know what would fit in there and told me ok so i the next day show me one and it was the button after she me that i to pay 250 dollars extra i ask why you guys had me that it was done that i just had to pay rent on first she it was because i did have any credit or my points were low i told them that's wrong because i been getting loans and they never said any that they me that that was getting was going to be upstairs and i told that i wanted downstairs they said no we told you we had a 1 bedroom apartment it was on upstairs if that was the i would not taking it and my mom was with me the time she hard everything because new that it had to now i don't know what do i don't know if the is going to expected or what but i can't live upstairs i don't know what to do.oh other thing when i went into the the was stain and i started to feel like something was on so i started to take some photos of apartment because i do that before i move and after i move out for my records.ok after that it was getting dark when was videotaping i started in living room carpet i was seing white things that look like snow coming from the carpet i thought i was seing thing but keep seing it so went the bedroom and the same thing but it was coming from all over i started to feeling something on my body like poking but weird tiny white and black so got my purse and left i started to ish bad.i to my mom's and went straight to the shower.that other thing to what do do about all the thing.Thank you for ready my comment.
January 04, 2018

in MN will traffic ticket with possession of weed stop me from renting?

January 08, 2018
I am a small company who rents out offices and would like to perform criminal background checks on perspective customers before handing over keys. What can I or should I be doing to protect myself and my customers?
January 15, 2018
Thank you for your solution for making many people to homeless just because an offense occur and may not be eligible for place to stay. Number #1 in the nation for homeless.
February 06, 2018
I filled out an application for an apartment and paid the application fee and holding deposit fee. A week later I received an email with a move in date. The apartment I would be moving in was opening because the tenant was relocating and the management was letting them out of their contract since I was interested in renting the apartment. I was also told I could rent the apartment for six months. A week later when I inquired about when I would receive my contract I was told that a new company managed the apartment complex. The new management told me that I did not have the apartment because the current tenants contract was for another seven months. He also said that they do not offer six month contracts and the previous management of the apartments should not have offered that. I believe I should be able to get the apartment because the acting agent of the apartment complex at the time I filled out the paperwork represented the apartment?
FTC Staff
February 16, 2018

In reply to by upsetandangry

You can contact the local consumer protection agency about the company, or the Attorney General in your state. Keep copies of your emails and bank records. 

February 28, 2018
I currently have an apartment under my name for my sister. She's been paying on time for a year. Now my other sister is asking for me to put another apartment under my name. They both have broken leases. I live in Texas and I am not sure if I can do this. When they do the back ground check will the other apartment I currently have come up? It's hard to say no to my sisters when they have no where else to go.
FTC Staff
April 20, 2018

In reply to by Vickie

You might want to ask your city, county or state housing agency what a landlord can ask about when you apply for a lease, and what your rights are.

Some employers can check your background before they decide to hire you or keep you on a job. When they do that, you have certain rights under federal law. This FTC article explains your rights related to background check.

Single Mom Of 2
March 09, 2018
I have been a tenant at my current residence since 2013. At the time I signed my lease I was told that my water bill is paid by me and it is 60.00 based on the amount of people in the unit. In 2014 I was laid off and in 2015 I found another job paying less than what I was making when I signed the lease. The water has since increased to 100.00 and because I was late paying the water I was penalized for non payment of rent. Now because of my bad rental history, it's hard to find a place affordable to move. No one wants to rent to me. What do I do?
March 22, 2018
I had a possession charge in 2000 and getting ready to fill out paperwork. Will that charge show up after all these years with no other charges before or after that?
Jessica 1014
May 01, 2018
Hi I’ve been living in my house for about seven months now my lease is not up yet it’s a 12 month lease my landlord due to what ever reason she does not like us recently decided she was going to run a background check she is now trying to edict us and served us with papers due to what she found on this background check is this legal
FTC Staff
June 15, 2018

In reply to by Jessica 1014

This article tells what landlords must know when they use consumer reports.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires landlords to take certain steps when they use consumer reports to make decisions about a tenant. A landlord could run a background check when it is looking at new applicants,  or deciding whether to renew a current tenant’s lease.

If the landlord takes an adverse action against the tenant that is based partly or completely on information in the consumer report, the landlord must give the tenant a  spoken, written or electronic notice about that.

Distressed in WNY
May 07, 2018
I rented an apartment in Wny in January of 2017. I've been an excellent tenant . I was asked in the original lease contract about my criminal history. In 2007 I was convicted of a class I felony in NC. I served 19 months out of a 23 month sentence 4 months off for good behavior all my citizenship rights were reinstated . My lease was renewed . Now its May obviously a tenant googled me and printed out a news paper article which was nowhere close to the truth . They passed it out to many people here. The property management has asked to move based on this article. Do I have any rights ? I vote even have a passport that is obviously good since I've visited other countries and have had no difficulty returning to the U.S. I just dont understand how this can be ???
Worried in NC
April 26, 2019

In reply to by Distressed in WNY

I'm in a similar situation I'm trying to rent an apartment in nc but when I looked on the application form I see that they have criminal background checks in 2009 I was convicted of a class e felony in ny it's now 10 years removed and I have no other offenses on my record I'm afraid that if I put down that I have a felony I will be rejected I'm also afraid that if I don't and the background check shows that I have a felony I will be rejected I feel like I'm in a loose loose situation
May 14, 2018
By law does an apartment complex have the right to deny me an apartment due to my non-violent, non-drug felony offenses in Indiana?
FTC Staff
June 15, 2018

In reply to by JeannieS

Landlords have to comply with the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act when they use a consumer report to make decisions about a tenant. A consumer report could include a report from a background check company about your criminal history.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires a landlord to take certain steps before it can get a consumer report, and if it takes an adverse action against you because of what is in  your consumer report. If a landlord denies your application because of what is in your consumer report, it has to give you a spoken, written or electronic notice about that.  You have a right to see the the information being reported about you and to correct information that isn't correct.

June 05, 2018
Kentucky Resident:: I am currently looking to move to a three bedroom. I have tried getting in contact with property management companies for homes to rent, who I have found to be totally useless and unhelpful. We are now looking into apartments. I have a felony that is almost 11 years old. How for do apartment complexes go back in background checks?
June 26, 2018
Does some who is renting a home need a copy of my license?
August 21, 2018
I am only hoping someone will see this and respond with the correct answer which I havent a clue what it is. It is my intenetion to move from GA to FL within the next 10-12 months. About 20 years ago I worked in another state and got a felony conviction. I took something that didnt belong to me and paid it back. Unfortunately the Felony stays.. Since then I have not been in any trouble at all. My credit is steller as is my rental history for the past 15+ years. Actually I cant remember being late on any rental payments in a very very long time. Racking my brain as I type this, its been 15+ years at least and I can get proof for 10+- years. I am applying for a wait list on an apartment complex and I see there is a statement about criminal background checks. This happened 20+ years ago and my life has completely changed since this happened. Ive gotten it together or I probably wouldnt have such good rental and credit history.. Does ANYONE know if there is a length of time that Florida landlords go back on a Criminal Background check? Its a pretty big complex so Im sure they will do something. And since Im moving from another state Im almost certain of it. I just dont want to get my hopes up thinking im going to be able to move and then have my bubble busted...Im too old and too tired..I just want to get moved and live the rest of my life in peace...
October 09, 2018
I rented an apartment in June with my boyfriend .the landlord did not run a credit check or anything of that nature but knew us from having a boat docked at his marina .the lease was only for 4 months with the possibility of renewal . We moved in anyways bc we couldn’t get anything else so anyways Apparently 10 days after we moved in he was robbbed 3 times and the police couldn’t find any proof to who did it I never was told by him about this robbery but just from my neighbor the other tenant and I confronted him he said he believes it was my bf and the cops believe it was him bc he has a background in robbery but not resedential it was gas stations not from anyone’s homes ! He is blaming that on why we can’t renew our lease and is saying he dosent want anyone living here with a criminal record but never looked into that before and there’s a tenant living here also with a record and his lease was for a year I don’t think this is fair and now I’m being evicted what can I do
October 22, 2018
In Florida My freind wants to be my roomate The landlord who is on the condo board said that she has to do a background check and she definitely will be approved regardlessnot clean backgound or clean she still has to do it for condo policy and procedure she does not want to do it feeling she is being violted .In the state of Florida or any state or territory does a landlord have a right to do this for a cotenant not on a lease?
January 18, 2019
Thanks for not replying to ANYONE who asked how far back criminal charges are checked and if they are checked nationally or just in that state. Non drug, non sex offender. Just a woman who went through homeless period trying to survive in 2000. Was hoping I wouldn't be judged for a mistake I made 20 years ago.
January 24, 2019
So im cutiouse as to if my manager is allowed to do a criminal check or not because, she had denied my boyfriend from being put on the lease. The denial paper is signed by the complex manager herself. I also like in Portland Oregon.
April 06, 2019
Does Texas apts only run state background checks
Joe Wolf
July 23, 2019
In Texas is there a law that limits the number of years that a Rental Property owner are held to? I have been rejected for a misdemeanor from 20 years ago.
May 14, 2020
As a prospective tenant, what should I check about a landlord before signing a lease? Any important questions I need to ask a landlord or agent especially when the landlord lives in out of state? Here is CA.
April 29, 2021
Can I reuse my background check for multiple apartment applications?