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Review your rental background check

Most landlords and property managers use rental background checks, also called tenant screening reports, to decide whether to rent to someone. CFPB has received thousands of complaints about rental background check companies and has heard many stories of people being rejected from housing because incorrect information appeared in their report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you rights to help you dispute these errors.

Landlords are required to tell you if you were denied a lease, or charged a higher security deposit or other fee, because of information in your report. The landlord must also provide the name, address, and phone number of the company that created the report. You can ask the landlord if they are willing to share a copy of the report they used with you, and you are entitled to a free version of your report from the company the landlord used if you request it within 60 days. A rental background check can include a lot of information, here’s how to look for any errors.

Checking your rental background report for errors

Once you get a copy of your report, use the checklist below as a guide for what to look for in your report. Identifying and fixing these errors can be complicated, and you can often find free legal help if you need it.


  • Is eviction information correct? For information about any eviction on your report, make sure it includes the final disposition, or status. For example, if an eviction filing was dismissed, make sure that it says “dismissed.” If the report shows that eviction was filed but does not show that it was dismissed, that should be corrected.
  • Is a single eviction appearing multiple times? Watch out for different stages of the eviction process (such as eviction filing, forcible entry and? detainer, judgment of possession, etc.) appearing like you have had multiple evictions even though they are all for the same eviction.
  • Are sealed or expunged records included? If your eviction was sealed or expunged, it should not be on your report.
  • Is eviction information outdated? Federal law generally bans negative information like evictions from being included on your report after seven years.
  • Are evictions and rental arrears related to the pandemic being reported? If you experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic, federal and state protections may affect the information on your rental background check. Learn more about pandemic protections that may apply to you.

Criminal records

  • Is criminal record information incorrect? Make sure that misdemeanors and felonies are listed correctly on your report.
  • Is a single criminal arrest and conviction appearing multiple times? Watch out for instances of one criminal charge appearing multiple times or different stages of the process appearing separately which may make it seem like you have multiple charges.
  • Are sealed or expunged records included? If any of your criminal records was expunged or removed from public records, they should not appear on your report.
  • Is criminal record information outdated? Arrests can remain on your report for seven years from the date of entry, unless a longer statute of limitations applies. There is no federal time limit for how long criminal convictions can stay on your report, although some states may have different rules.

Judgments from a court requiring you to pay money

  • Is there outdated information about a civil judgment on your report? Generally, information about a decision from a lawsuit – also known as a civil judgment – can be reported for seven years after the judgment is issued or until the statute of limitations for the debt expires, whichever is longer.
  • Is the amount listed as owed or overdue incorrect? If you paid off some of the amount owed, then the amount reported should reflect the accurate lower amount.

Credit history

  • Is your credit history incorrect? Most rental background checks include credit information – such as overdue bills – provided by credit reporting companies, including Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You should check your rental background check for common errors, like overdue bills that belong to someone else or a debt that was actually paid off but looks like it is still owed. If you find an error, request your credit report and request that the error be fixed.

What to do if you do find outdated or inaccurate information on your rental background check

Dispute errors

If you find outdated or inaccurate information on your rental background check, you can dispute the information with the company that created the background check as well as the company that provided, or furnished, the information. The company that has provided incorrect information must correct the error and notify all of the consumer reporting companies to whom it provided the inaccurate information. Follow the steps below to submit a dispute.

  • Contact both the company that created the background check and the person or company that reported the incorrect information to the background check company
  • Describe the error or issue in writing
  • Include copies of any supporting documents, like proof of your identity or dated proof of payments you made

For errors about evictions or criminal records, you can also contact the court. The CFPB also has resources to help you dispute errors on credit reports from companies like Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Contact a lawyer

If your rights have been violated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act or a state law, you may have a right to bring a lawsuit. There are several ways to find an experienced attorney, including free legal aid programs. Find a lawyer.

Submit a complaint to the CFPB

If you think your rights have been violated by rental background check company, you can submit a complaint to the CFPB. The CFPB monitors consumer financial markets, including background check and credit reporting companies, to ensure that they are fair, transparent, and competitive. Complaints are invaluable to our work. We use them to hold companies accountable in our enforcement and regulatory work.

This resource guide includes links and references to third-party resources or content that consumers may find helpful. The CFPB does not control or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. By listing these links and references, the CFPB is not endorsing and has not vetted these third-parties, the views they express, or the products or services they offer. Other entities and resources also may meet your needs.

Last updated: OCT 11, 2023