Credit information: Disputing errors

Landlords and rental property management commonly check prospective renters' credit reports before agreeing to have them as tenants, to make certain they'll be paid on time. Renters who are financially responsible but find themselves turned away may be the victim of a credit reporting error.

Renters may want to check their credit report before applying to ensure it is accurate, since mistakes can sometimes appear in their credit history. A report should be available for free during the 60-day period following an application rejected for poor credit. Once mistakes are found, however, they must still be corrected.

The first step is to contact the credit reporting agency in writing, outlining what information is incorrect and sending copies of any documents corroborating the consumer's version of events. Consumers should clearly give their name and address and keep copies of all correspondence in case later verification is needed.

The agency will then investigate the discrepancy and inform the business which reported the information, who will also investigate. They generally have 30 days to prove or disprove the disputed information and contact the consumer.

Renters who have their credit report corrected can then re-apply with their correct and beneficial credit history. If poor credit was a landlord's only objection, this can resolve the issue and secure an apartment.