Credit reports contain “information” about where you live and work and your bill paying habits; it may also state whether there has been an eviction or arrest. Landlords have the right to charge for credit reports. Many landlords pay credit agencies for reports. A landlord may also track credit themselves, by contacting banks, credit card companies, and checking court files for lawsuits or bankruptcies. Either way, the landlord can charge a non-refundable fee for the check.
Landlords can set whatever credit standards they want. They must hold that standard to all applicants. If they do not, they may be charged with discrimination. Some landlords may accept an applicant with a poor credit history by charging a larger security deposit or requiring a cosigner. The cosigner is fully responsible for the costs of the apartment.
How to get your credit report?
If someone is denied housing because of a credit check, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the landlord supply the name and address of the credit agency used. If contacted within 30 days, the agency must supply the tenant with the report for free.
How to fix errors on your report?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to dispute information on your credit report. Write a letter to the credit agency. Clearly identify the items you dispute, and request deletions or corrections. Include copies of any thing that may support your claim, such as a receipt for rent. Send the letter certified mail and keep a copy.
If the agency feels no change to your report is necessary, file a statement of up to 100 words explaining your side of the story. The credit agency must include this statement any time it sends out your credit report. If you feel the agency did not properly investigate your dispute, file a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission or the States Attorney.
What collectors may and may not do
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act bans certain types of debt collection and applies to anyone who collects debts for others. This includes property managers and lawyers.
A collector may not contact you at unreasonable times or places. This may include your place of work. A collector may not tell anyone else that you allegedly owe money. Harassment is illegal. They may not repeatedly use the telephone to annoy you, threaten you or use obscene language. Debt collectors may not falsely imply that you committed a crime or will be arrested for not paying. Debt collectors may not garnish wages or property without a court judgment.
How to stop a debt collector?
If you believe a debt collector has violated the law, you have the right to sue in state or federal court. You may recover damages, court costs, and attorney fees if you win. Whether or not you sue, you should report any problems with a debt collector to the States Attorney and the Federal Trade Commission. Once a collector receives a letter telling them to stop contacting you, they may only contact you to say that there will be not further contact or regarding a specific action.
Thanks to the Ann Arbor Tenants Union for the credit information