Reporting positive rental payment histories to credit bureaus has been in the news more than once in recent months.
In early November, Freddie Mac announced it will provide closing cost credits on multifamily loans for owners of apartment properties who agree to report on-time rental payments. In July, California began requiring multifamily properties that receive federal, state or local subsidies to offer each resident in a subsidized apartment home the option of having their rental payments reported to a major credit bureau. And while reporting positive rental payments to credit bureaus may not yet be part of the multifamily mainstream, forward-thinking operators have already been doing it for years.
Below is a quick primer on this practice and its benefits.
Why do renters need this service?
A strong, positive credit history is critical to securing car loans, credit cards and mortgages – and doing so at favorable interest rates. Unfortunately, unlike homeowners, apartment residents traditionally have not seen a positive impact on their credit reports for making their rent payments on time and in full, even though these payments can be very large and usually make up their largest monthly expense.
In fact, renters are seven times more likely to be credit invisible – meaning they lack enough credit history to generate a credit score – than homeowners, according to the Credit Builders Alliance (CBA). This especially impacts lower-income households and communities of color. Renters make up approximately 60% of the U.S. households that make less than $25,000 a year, while Black and Hispanic households are twice as likely as White households to rent, according to the CBA.
Experian is among the organizations working with the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) on the association’s Rental Empowerment Project. Through the REP, CDIA and its partner organizations seek to increase the reporting of rental payment history information by landlords and property managers through the development and adoption of a uniform, universal data reporting format for landlords and property managers to use.
How does reporting positive rental payments to credit bureaus have an impact on a resident’s credit history?
The impact on any individual renter will obviously vary because of a wide array of factors.
But to get some sense of the potential impact reporting on-time rental payments can have, consider the results of the CBA’s Power of Rent Reporting pilot. In that test, 100% of renters who started off with no credit score became scorable at the near prime or prime level. In addition, residents with subprime scores saw their score increase by an average of 32 points.
How does reporting positive rent payments benefit rental-housing owners and operators?
Reporting positive rental payments provides residents with a powerful incentive to pay their rent on time and in full. And because there’s not a huge percentage of apartment communities currently doing this, helping residents build their credit history in this manner can offer a real competitive advantage.