4 Tips to Explain a Gap in Your Rental History
When applying to rent a home or apartment, it's a common practice for landlords to ask for your rental history. They want to know if you're a reliable tenant or how risky it would be for them to rent a property to you.
Unfortunately, a gap in your rental history may indicate to a potential landlord that you're trying to hide a negative reference from a former landlord. If you do have a gap in your history, your best bet is to be honest about the situation and tell them why.
1. Tell the truth
If you were living with family or friends, you could explain this to your potential landlord. Perhaps it would be a good idea to provide a reference letter from the people you were staying with.
If you were evicted from your former lease or suspect you will have a negative reference from a former landlord, it's imperative that you do not try to hide this from your potential landlord. Many housing agencies and landlords use services that collect information available from public records and court filings, so they will likely find out if you omit a lot of information. Failure to provide complete information about your rental history to a potential landlord can lead to the denial of your housing application.
2. Know where you stand
If you're concerned what a report from a collection service might turn up on you, you can purchase a rental history report about yourself to see what comes up. Some of the information collection services may provide an incomplete picture of your history for your potential landlord.
If this is the case, make sure you have copies of all documents regarding the situation, and then contact the collection service so they can correct their records. You're also entitled to have old information removed from your report, like bankruptcies more than 10-years old and other negative reporting that's seven years old or more.
3. Sell yourself
Be prepared to prove to your potential landlord that you would be a reliable tenant if you have a significant gap in your rental history. Proof of your current salary and your credit history are good places to start.
If there are circumstances that prevented you from paying on time, for example, provide an explanation of why you were unable to pay during that time frame and how you would ensure that your payment would be on time during this new lease.
Providing your potential landlord with a cover letter explaining any loose ends and reference letters from people who can attest to your character may also be helpful.
4. Get some help
If you're still struggling to secure a rental, your best bet may be to find a co-signer. A co-signer is somebody who agrees to be held responsible for unpaid rent or property damage if you fail to make payments or incur damage to the property.
Many landlords will ignore gaps in rental history or an otherwise poor history if they're guaranteed their rent payments.