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How to Get a Free Credit Report for Section 8 Housing

Many people wonder how to get a free credit report before they sign their lease on a new rental property. Even if you are looking to move and need to find a new home with a different landlord, your credit report is important. This is the information landlords and associations will look at to determine if you will be a trustworthy renter. Lenders will also need to examine your credit report if you have plans to take out a loan to help you buy a house or apartment. There are three main credit reporting agencies, and each of these agencies can give you and landlords specific information about your credit history. As a result, you need to know how to monitor all 3 credit reports. Fortunately, this is easy to do online. Before you obtain your full credit report, though, you must understand what this report is and how the information included in your report is calculated.

What is a credit report?

A credit report is an important document that explains your financial history. Specifically, your full credit report provides details about your past credit activity and whether you currently have any loans you need to pay. It also provides information as to whether you pay your bills and other expenses on time.

If you want to rent an apartment, you can look at your full credit report to help you determine what your likelihood is of having your rental application approved. Landlords and other people involved in assessing rental applications will also review this information to help determine if they will rent to you.

HUD standards for Section 8 applicants also include qualifications based on citizenship status and a background check. Citizens of the U.S. and immigrants with proof of legal presence are eligible to receive benefits of Section 8 housing. Mixed families are households that have members with and without a legal immigration status, and these types of households can be eligible for Section 8 housing. Mixed families applying for Section 8 may receive a different voucher amount based on the members with a legal U.S. presence.

HUD guidelines also have requirements regarding an applicant’s criminal history. Applicants evicted from Section 8 housing for drug-related crimes cannot apply for Section 8 housing until three years after the crime. Additionally, anyone with a conviction of methamphetamine production is ineligible for a housing voucher. PHAs can establish additional requirements during a background check, if desired. For example, some PHAs may have a time limit for applicants convicted of other crimes that are not mentioned in PHA regulations. Some housing authorities will not accept applications from anyone who still owes money to a previous or current PHA.

What are the major credit reporting agencies?

There are three major credit reporting agencies that you can request your credit reports from. They are:

  • Equifax.
  • TransUnion.
  • Experian.

If you request your official annual credit report, you will be able to access information from these three agencies. Remember that you will need to request 3 credit reports to obtain information from these different sources. If you go to the proper site, though, you can file these requests at one time. However, you also have the opportunity to request the reports at different times throughout the year. So long as you only obtain one credit report a year from each agency, you can file your requests whenever you want.

How to Get a Free Credit Report

You are entitled to request a free annual credit report each year. Unfortunately, many Americans do not take advantage of this benefit. This is because they are not sure how to obtain their report and do not know where they need to go to obtain this information. However, most people know that they can request these reports online. This can cause complications though. Some sites may charge you to get your credit report. Others may use their sites to steal your information. Therefore, it is important to check the site you use before you request your report on it.

Keep in mind that there is one government-approved site where you can request your credit report online. However, if you do not want to place your request online, you can still request this best free credit report by mail or phone.

How many credit reports per year can I request?

You are entitled to one free credit report each year. If you ask for two reports within the same year, your request may be denied. When you are searching for places to obtain your credit report online, you may come across sites that allow to request your credit report more frequently. However, you should be wary of these sites. You do not always know how legitimate they are, and they will likely charge you for the service.

How to Dispute Your Credit Report

One of the benefits of obtaining your annual credit report is that you can make sure the information the credit reporting agencies have is accurate. Whether due to accounting errors or identity fraud, sometimes you may find an error in your credit report. This can cause difficulty for you later on. For example, you may have a harder time having your apartment rental application approved due to a mistake on your credit report. If your credit report error is due to identity theft, your Social Security Number (SSN) and other personal information could be compromised. This can cause additional problems for you.

If you notice an error in your full credit report, you must notify the credit reporting agency. You can do this in writing. If you file your dispute and an error is found, you will receive a new credit report with this information. In this case, you will not be charged for obtaining your annual credit report too early.

Credit Score vs Credit Report

Your credit report is different from your credit score. Your credit score represents to lenders how reliable you are to repay any money you borrow. These scores range from 300 to 850. The higher your score, the better your chances are of being approved to rent an apartment or house.
Your credit score is calculated using different factors. Some of the most important ones include:

  • How long you have been building your credit – Until you take out a loan or obtain a credit card, you have no credit. The shorter your credit history, the lower your credit score is likely to be.
  • If you pay your credit card bills and make loan payments on time – Credit reporting agencies maintain the information relating to your credit history. If you generally do not pay your loan and credit card bills on time, you will have a lower credit score.
  • How much credit you use – If you spend the maximum amount available on your credit card each month, this will probably affect your credit score. Likewise, if you have several loans at one time, this will likely lower your score.

However, keep in mind that your free credit score report can also be a good indicator of any changes that might happen with your credit history. If your credit score quickly increases or decreases before you apply for an apartment, you may want to request your credit report and make sure your information is accurate.

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