If you’ve ever rented an apartment, you know how much information can be brought to the surface. You suddenly find yourself hunting down bills, documents and other personal information that you haven’t needed in ages.

On top of all that, landlords are likely to check your rental history – both what you tell them and information based on your credit history.

So, what’s the deal? Why are apartments so obsessed with your rental history?

To make sure you’re reliable

The bottom line is landlords do their job to make money. You’d be hard pressed to find a landlord that isn’t concerned about turning a profit. The key to being a profitable landlord is having tenants that – you guessed it – pay their rent.

Checking your previous rental history can help give the property owner an idea of how reliable you are to pay your rent so they make their money.

To make sure you’re harmless

Sometimes, when landlords dig into a potential tenant’s rental history, they reveal infringements more severe than simply unpaid or late rent.

Rental history inquiries can reveal complaints from past landlords and even eviction proceedings. If a tenant has a history of being noisy, involved in police situations, creating physical damage or breaking the terms of the lease, it will show up in the rental history check.

To make sure you can afford it

In addition to checking that you can be trusted to pay on time and act sensibly while living in the apartment, a landlord’s check into rental history is partly to make sure you’re not getting in over your head.

While landlords tend to assess a potential tenants’ income through employment verification and credit checks, a rental history check is also an important facet of the tenant verification process.

By seeing the amount of rent you paid in the past, and cross-referencing it with how much the unit you intend to rent costs, landlords can get an idea of not only your willingness to pay but also your ability to pay.

How can you make sure your rental history is clean?

The easiest and most obvious way to make sure you have a clean rental history is to be a responsible tenant. Pay your rent on time, abide by the guidelines of your lease and live peacefully in the community. If you can do all of that, any professional landlord will help you to verify your clean rental history in the future.

Most tenants are not truly “perfect” tenants, and landlords understand that. That’s why you should always be honest about your rental history when applying to apartments. Landlords are more likely to work with your situation if you’re honest than if they discover you’ve lied about your history.

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