Landlords frequently require a credit check as part of their application process in order to gauge a tenant's ability to afford the rent and their propensity to pay that rent on time. In general, it's a really simple process... but it can be one step trickier if you have a freeze on your credit report.
There are three credit bureaus in the U.S. (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) who aggregate information about you and generate a credit report that can be used by third parties (mortgage companies, car dealerships, credit card companies... landlords!) to assess your "creditworthiness."
Unfortunately, in 2017 Equifax had a major breech exposing the data of over 147 million people. As a result of that breech everyone (ok, not everyone but a lot of people) put a freeze on their credit report. With a freeze in place, if a "bad actor" tries to open up a line of credit in your name with stolen information, the lender will politely decline the application (be it for a mortgage, a car loan, a new credit card, etc.) because they are unable to view a credit report indicating that they will likely be repaid one day.
So how do you unfreeze your credit report when you genuinely need someone (like a potential landlord!) to take a peek at it so you can move into the rental property of your dreams?
Here you go:
- Because you have to add a freeze on your report with all three bureaus to keep your data locked up, you need to remove the freeze from whichever of the three bureaus your potential landlord uses for credit checks.
- Each bureau is shockingly simple to navigate for freezes and unfreezes. Click the appropriate link below to get to the credit reporting page or call them at the number listed:
- All three companies offer the option of a temporary lift of the freeze for a defined period of time. If you know you may be applying at multiple rental properties in a month, you can unfreeze your report for that month and the freeze will go back into effect without further action when the month is over.
- If you forgo the temporary lift and unfreeze your credit report don't forget to add it back upon completion of the rental application process.
It's worth nothing that there is no way to "unsubscribe" from Experian, Equifax or TransUnion collecting your data... it is part of living life in the fast lane (or the 21st century). So if you haven't already, in addition to putting a freeze on your report with all three bureaus start checking your own score regularly.