How Long Does A Background Check Take For An Apartment?

Credit and background checks for an apartment usually take up to a week, with most background checks completed within 48-72 hours.

Sometimes, rental background checks take longer, which is frustrating when you’re eager to move into your new home.

Reasons for background check delays include:

  • Leasing staff failing to process the background check right away
  • Missing or incorrect information on the rental application
  • The time needed to verify references
  • Applicants with previous addresses in multiple states

How Long Does A Credit And Background Check Take For An Apartment?

How Long Does A Credit And Background Check Take For An Apartment?

An apartment manager may receive your background check results within a few hours and get back to you the same day. Usually, though, background checks and employment verification take anywhere from 48 hours to a week.

When you fill out your rental application, ask the landlord or leasing manager how long the background check should take.

They’ll be able to give you an estimate based on how quickly their background checks usually come back.

If you haven’t heard from the leasing office in the specified timeframe, don’t hesitate to give them a call and follow up on your application.

Related: Can You Rent An Apartment With Bad Credit?

Why Do Apartments Do Background Checks?

Apartments run background checks on prospective tenants to make sure they’re renting to responsible tenants who will pay their rent on time and take care of the rental property.

Bad tenants cost landlords money. Running a background check is a quick and easy way for landlords to screen out risky tenants.

Do All Apartments Run Background Checks?

A background check is a standard part of the rental application process for most apartment communities.

While you should expect to go through a background check, the qualifying criteria used by landlords vary. Some landlords have stricter criteria than others.

Before you fill out a rental application and pay the fee, ask to see the apartment’s tenant acceptance policy, so you know what the requirements are.

How Extensive Are Background Checks For Apartments?

Background checks for apartments can be fairly extensive depending on the requirements of the landlord or property management company.

A thorough rental background check will:

  • look at your credit history
  • search for criminal convictions
  • check rental and eviction history
  • confirm your employment and income

Credit History

Landlords often specify the minimum credit score applicants need to rent one of their apartments. Most landlords will be happy to see a credit score in the 600-650 range, although, in cities with strong demand for rental properties, landlords may expect renters to have a higher credit score.

If your credit score isn’t high enough (or you don’t have a credit history), you could be asked to provide a cosigner or guarantor.

Your credit score is only part of the credit check. Landlords also want to know if you pay your bills on time and have any debts in collections.

Federal law requires credit bureaus in the United States to provide consumers with a free credit report once a year.

Request your free credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion at: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action.

Check the details on your reports are accurate, and get any mistakes fixed before you apply for apartments.

Criminal History

The criminal background screening looks for any arrests and convictions within the period specified by the landlord.

  • For non-convictions (arrests, dismissed cases), federal law limits the lookback period to 7 years.
  • For convictions, some states limit how far back the search can go, but most allow all convictions to be reported regardless of age.

Landlords are typically concerned with convictions from the last 10 years, but some will disqualify renters with older convictions.

If you’ve got a criminal record, check the laws in your state to find out if there are any reporting limits.

You can also run a background check on yourself to see what’s included in your criminal history report.

Landlords can’t use a blanket policy that disqualifies all applicants with criminal records. Tenant screening policies must specify which offenses are disqualifying and how long the disqualification lasts.

Rental And Eviction History

Your rental history report lists your previous rental addresses and your former landlords’ contact details.

The report will also provide information about any eviction filings and court-ordered evictions.

Landlords use the information in your rental history report to find out if you paid your rent on time in the past.

Employment And Income Verification

Employment And Income Verification

Landlords need to verify your income to know you can afford the rent. Typically, landlords want your income to be at least 2.5 to 3 times the monthly rent.

Be ready to provide proof of your income to avoid unnecessary delays. Landlords may ask to see your:

  • Pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • W2 Tax form
  • 1040 or 1099 Tax return
  • Social Security statement

Your employer could also be contacted and asked to confirm your employment start date, job title, and monthly salary.

Landlords prefer to see that you’ve worked with your employer for at least 6 months. This indicates you’re more likely to stay in the apartment for the duration of the lease than someone who frequently changes jobs.

Don’t worry if you’ve recently started a new job because being a new hire won’t automatically disqualify you.

How long Does A Background Check Take For An Apartment?

When you apply for an apartment, you have to consent to the background check. If you don’t give consent, your application won’t be processed.

Make sure you provide an email address that you check regularly.

Depending on the company used for the background check, you may be sent a link to an applicant portal and asked to submit your information and identity documents.

As long as you provide all the information requested, your background check shouldn’t take longer than a week.

If you don’t hear anything about your application and background check within a reasonable period, call the leasing office to follow up.