Credit reporting agencies (CRAs) prepare the reports that many landlords use to evaluate a prospective renter’s application. These reports include information like the applicant’s rental history and credit history. Landlords who do this must follow guidelines set by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), meaning if they decide to reject an application based on information in the report, they must state so. If you’re a landlord who reports information about your tenants to a CRA, you must also adhere to FCRA guidelines.
What Constitutes a CRA?
While Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax are the most well-known agencies, CRAs also include tenant screening organizations, check verification businesses, and even medical information services. A CRA is any agency that gathers data to help a business analyze consumers.
When you habitually submit information to a CRA, the organization must send you an explanation of your responsibilities. These responsibilities include:
What to Do When a Tenant Dispute Occurs
If you’ve received notification from a CRA that information you’ve submitted is under dispute, your responsibility is to research the dispute, including the information the CRA provided. Inform the CRA of your conclusions. If you find the information under dispute is, in fact, inaccurate, you must submit the correct data to any other national CRAs you supplied the information to.
You generally have 30 days to investigate and report, and if necessary, update information. You get deadline extensions if the tenant provides new information during the process. If you do not investigate the dispute, the information under dispute is removed from the CRA’s files.
What to Do When Reporting Delinquent Payments
When you report missed tenant payments that have been turned over to collections or charged as a loss, you have 90 days to furnish the month and year of the delinquency. CRAs use the dates when they calculate how long they keep that negative information in a person’s file. It can be tricky to calculate the date of a delinquency, but the following examples should help.
As a general practice, it's a good idea to act as honestly and as responsibly as you can. Avoid reporting information you know is wrong or that you cannot verify. Meet all deadlines, keep everyone updated, and you should be able to meet all your legal obligations without any trouble.
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