Q&A: How landlords weigh your credit history when deciding whether to rent to you

Dear Liz: I recently paid off a large amount of credit card debt: over $15,000 in total to several credit card companies. How long does it take for my credit report to reflect that? I will be moving into an apartment in the next month or two. I don’t want my application to be denied because my debt is still listed on my credit report. I live with my father right now as he needs 24-hour care, but in the near future he will need to move into a nursing home as he has advanced dementia.

Answer: Credit card issuers typically report balances to the credit bureaus every month. Many report your balance as of your card’s statement closing date. If you paid off a balance a few days after the card’s statement closing date, you may not see the change reflected in your credit reports and credit scores until the next billing cycle.

High debt levels relative to your income could be a concern for landlords. Typically, though, they’re looking for bigger red flags such as late payments and collections that indicate you don’t pay on time.

Many landlords use credit scores as an initial way to evaluate applicants, followed by a closer look at applicants’ credit reports. If you maintain good scores and have no negative marks, you should be seen as a good candidate.

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