Can Tenants Provide Their Own Credit Report to a Landlord?

Can Tenants Provide Their Own Credit Report to a Landlord?

Last Updated: October 31, 2023 by Cameron Smith

A prospective tenant can provide their own credit report, but in most states, the landlord is not required to use that report. Many landlords will instead opt to have tenant screening services pull more complete reports, which generally include credit checks, criminal background, and eviction history.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Submitting Your Own Credit Report to a Landlord

Read the table below to identify the benefits and drawbacks of submitting your own credit report to a landlord:

Benefits Drawbacks
Reduced or waived application fee Cost to purchase the report
Applicant knows exactly what is on the report and can prepare an explanation if needed The landlord may view the request as suspicious or as a fraudulent report
Avoid multiple credit checks as it can lower your credit score In most states, the landlord doesn’t have to accept the report, even if you already paid for it

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Why Would a Tenant Submit Their Own Credit Report?

Application fees are often used to cover the cost of hiring a service to pull a tenant screening report, which usually includes a credit report. An applicant may try to have the landlord reduce or waive the application fee in exchange for submitting a credit history themselves.

It’s common practice for landlords to charge application fees except where it is illegal to do so. Massachusetts is the only state that prohibits application fees unless it is a licensed broker, while a few other states have limits on how much can be charged.

Check out this table below for the maximum rental application fee in each state:

State Maximum Rental Application Fee
Alabama No Statute 
Alaska No Statute 
Arizona No Statute 
Arkansas No Statute 
California $63.70 and increases annually by the same amount as the Consumer Price Index
Colorado No Statute 
Connecticut No Statute 
Delaware 10% of the monthly rent or $50 whichever is greater 
Florida No Statute 
Georgia No Statute 
Hawaii No Statute 
Idaho No Statute 
Illinois No Statute 
Indiana No Statute 
Iowa No Statute 
Kansas No Statute 
Kentucky No Statute 
Louisiana No Statute 
Maine Charges must only be for the actual cost of screening services
Maryland No Statute 
Massachusetts Only a licensed broker can charge an application fee
Michigan No Statute 
Minnesota Charges must only be for the actual cost of screening services
Mississippi No Statute 
Missouri No Statute 
Montana No Statute 
Nebraska No Statute 
Nevada No Statute 
New Hampshire No Statute 
New Jersey  No Statute 
New Mexico No Statute 
New York $20, unless the applicant can provide a background and credit check within the last 30 days
North Carolina No Statute 
North Dakota No Statute 
Ohio No Statute 
Oklahoma No Statute 
Oregon No Statute 
Pennsylvania No Statute 
Rhode Island No Statute 
South Carolina No Statute 
South Dakota No Statute 
Tennessee No Statute 
Texas No Statute 
Utah No Statute 
Vermont No Statute 
  • $50 
  • $32 for any housing subject to regulation by the U.S Dept of Housing and Urban Development
Washington Charges must only be for the actual cost of screening services
West Virginia No Statute 
Wisconsin $25
Wyoming No Statute 

Depending on how many rentals an applicant applies for, the application fees can add up.

Under federal law, each of the three credit agencies is required to provide a free credit report once per year. An applicant can pull their credit report for free, and then submit that to the landlord.

However, keep in mind a credit report is only valid for 120 days. So even if a landlord does accept a copy of your credit report, it will need to have been within the last 120 days to be considered valid.


Landlords are federally required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to receive written permission from a potential tenant to pull their credit report.

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What To Look For in Your Credit Report

59.2% of the population has a FICO credit score over 700. While this is great news for most Americans, it is important to know what is on your report.


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received 197,709 credit report complaints with 66% of the complaints regarding credit information that belonged to someone else. This means that even if you think you know your score, a change made that’s not from your actions could keep you from your dream rental.

Keep in mind, that changes in your credit report are typically normal with credit usage. Paying off account balances or making a big purchase can affect your score. However, you should look through your credit report to confirm the information is accurate, including:

  • Personal information – name, address(es), DOB, employers
  • Inquiries – hard inquiries for a new line of credit or services, soft inquiries from companies you already do business with
  • Public records – bankruptcy
  • Accounts – when the account was opened, the credit limit, payment history including on-time and late payments

It is not uncommon for people to discover incorrect account information like late payments, debts listed more than once, or information added as a result of identity theft. Looking at your report helps to ensure the information a potential landlord sees is accurate.

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Do Landlords Have to Accept an Applicant-Pulled Credit Report?

There is no legal obligation to accept an applicant-pulled credit report, nor are landlords obligated to reduce or waive the application fee in exchange for a freely supplied report.

Most landlords will opt to not accept a free credit report supplied by the applicant. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Credit reports may be out of date – If an applicant pulled a report several months ago, they will not be able to obtain another free one.
  • Most landlords will want more than a credit report – It’s best practice for landlords to order a full tenant screening report from a professional service. If you are already planning to do this, there is no reason to accept just a credit report from an applicant. You’ll be getting that information plus much more in the full report.
  • Application fees already cover the costs – Most landlords don’t pay for tenant screening reports—that’s what the application fees are for. Many will not be interested in changing their policy to accommodate a less complete report.
  • Fraudulent reports – For someone with the right skills, adjusting some of the data before submitting isn’t hard.

In most cases, landlords will require all their applicants to pay the application fee, meaning there’s no reason to allow prospective tenants to submit their own reports.

Can Landlords Require Applicants to Submit Their Own Credit Report?

There are certainly landlords who don’t plan to do full background histories on each prospective tenant. In these cases, they may ask that each applicant provide their own credit report.

Landlords may ask for applicant-submitted credit reports in these situations:

  • They manage a low-quality property and expect that most, if not all, of the applicants will have serious marks on their screening report.
  • They believe they’ll get more applicants with a less thorough background check and lower application fee.
  • They want to pocket the application fee themselves instead of spending it on a tenant screening report.

However, most landlords will want to collect a more thorough history and will likely hire a service rather than ask the applicants themselves for the credit report.


It may seem cheaper to spend less on screening reports, but in the long run, property owners will pay much more for evictions, property damage, and unplanned vacancies caused by under-screened candidates.

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Can Landlords Reject Applicants for Credit History?

Landlords are legally within their right to reject applicants for negative marks on their credit history. In fact, it’s one of the more common reasons for turning down an application, as having tenants with a strong history of paying their financial obligations is paramount to the long-term success of a rental.

In addition, applicants may also be rejected for refusing to submit a credit report or not allowing a landlord to pull a full tenant screening report.

However, if a landlord does reject an applicant due to their credit history, the landlord is legally required to submit an “adverse action” notice that includes:

  • Their credit score
  • Notice that the applicant can receive a free copy of their report and dispute the information
  • A statement that the consumer reporting agency did not choose to take any adverse action against the applicant and cannot explain the landlords’ decision
  • Contact information for the consumer reporting agency that created the report

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Can Landlords Accept Applicants With Poor Credit History?

Landlords can choose a tenant with a poor credit history. Depending on the other applications they receive, someone with a low credit score or no credit score may be the best option.

To help mitigate the risk of selecting an applicant with a lower credit score, landlords may:

  • Charge a higher rent
  • Require a higher security deposit
  • Require a co-signer

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What Can Tenants Do if the Information in Their Credit Report Is Wrong?

If a tenant does have incorrect information on their credit report, they will need to dispute the information with the credit reporting company. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion offer online, by mail, and phone services.

The credit reporting company will then:

  • Investigate the dispute
  • Report their findings
  • Remove the incorrect information OR deny the dispute

The tenant can submit proof of disputing the information to the landlord, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will change their mind. If a landlord has a qualified applicant, they may choose that person instead. It can take up to 30 days to complete an investigation and by the time you receive the result, it may be too late.


Be knowledgeable about your credit as it can help you avoid drama. Many banks and credit cards offer credit reporting services that don’t affect your score. It notifies when when your score changes and often offers suggestions to help you improve your score.