Many landlords check a prospective tenant’s credit report to see how responsible you are at managing money and whether you will be a reliable tenant who pays rent on time. Landlords often charge tenants a fee to check their credit report. Some states regulate the exact amount of the fee by statute, or simply require the landlords to charge reasonably. For example, the maximum screening fee a California landlord can charge is set by law around $35 per applicant, to be updated annually based on the Consumer Price Index.
Be sure you understand the purpose of any credit check fee you are charged and whether or not it is any kind of guarantee that you will get the rental unit. Don’t confuse a credit check fee with a holding deposit, which is normally a separate charge.
To avoid disputes over credit check fees and the amount of time a landlord takes to check your credit and background, it’s a good idea to sign a brief agreement with a landlord confirming your understanding. Use this sample Landlord-Tenant Agreement Regarding Tenant’s Credit Report and Fees for this purpose and edit it according to your situation. For example, if you have not made a holding deposit on the rental (as this sample agreement assumes), delete reference to that deposit. Fill in the blanks as appropriate. Both landlord and tenant should sign this agreement.