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Experian Credit Report Includes Rent Payments

Your credit report and credit score [3] are designed to calculate how likely you are to default on your loans. It’s increasingly being used in some surprising ways, such as determining whether or not to rent you a home. The reasoning for using credit this way, for determining whether or not to rent an apartment to someone, has to do with the reality that in many areas, it’s hard to evict a non-paying renter. You’re essentially “lending” them a place to stay with the hopes they pay you.

That said, it’s always been surprising that rental data was never included on a credit report… until today. It’s being reported that starting last January, Experian is including residential rental payment data [4] on credit reports as long as the landlord reports the payments. Reporting information to the credit bureaus is voluntary, the bureaus can’t force a landlord (much like they can’t force a creditor) to report that information.

I think this is a great development because it allows people to improve their credit when they rent. This takes a little off the common advice that you should open a credit card in order to build credit. By simply renting, and having your landlord report it, you are building your credit. While it might be beneficial to open a credit card, to show responsibility with different types of credit, you aren’t forced to because no alternative exists.

It’ll take some time, and more data, to see how this plays into the scoring algorithm but I think it’s generally a positive development. I wouldn’t be surprised if TransUnion and Equifax jump on the bandwagon soon.

(Photo: beeteeoh [5])