Credit Reports are used by landlords to determine whether an applicant is likely to pay rent in a timely manner and stay for the length of the lease. Your credit report will show whether you have paid your bills and other debts on time and any past problems you've had with other landlords. Austin Tenant's Council gives a quick primer on credit reports.
Credit reports contain your personal information, account information, and legal records and are gathered by three major companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Many different institutions, from banks to potential employers to landlords, pull your credit report to determine whether they want to initiate a relationship with you. Landlords specifically are looking for clues as to whether you have been responsible with credit so they can decide whether you are likely to be a principled renter.
Credit reports can include legal judgments, tax liens, marriages, divorces, arrests, convictions and other public records in addition to how you've handled credit. While large companies tend to turn in credit information regularly, smaller places such as local furniture stores or gas stations may only report credit if you are late on payments. Apartment complexes and landlords also tend to report only if there is a problem with your account.
In other words, your credit report may be missing information and there also can be mistakes. That's why it's important to check your credit report annually to look for problems, especially before applying for an apartment or credit. You are entitled to free reports from the tree reporting agencies once a year under federal law. You can get your free credit report by going to Annual Credit Report.com.