Categories: Management

How and Why to Report a Delinquent Tenant to the Credit Bureaus

If you have tried your hand at property management, you are likely to know that being a landlord is not only collecting money and dealing with maintenance requests. Sometimes it’s more about disputes, negotiations, and even reports to the credit bureaus. Yes, property management can boost your problem-solving skills better than a specialized class at university.

The bitter truth is that even the most competent landlords are not immune from dealing with unfaithful tenants. There is no type of renter screening that can reveal one’s true colors. Given this, it is highly advisable to hope for the best, but be prepared for all eventualities. Since delinquent tenants are probably the worst of what can happen to a landlord, we’ve created this supreme guide on how to deal with them.

What to Do About Delinquent Tenants?

Eviction and reporting to the credit bureaus should always be considered the last resort measures. It is safe to say that those are the most efficient ways of dealing with delinquent tenants, but there are many things you can do before going to extremes.

  • Double-check the lease agreement and payment reports to make sure that your tenant is indeed late.
  • Send a late rent notice saying that the rent is already past-due. Include a short warning about possible legal actions.
  • Give your tenant a phone call to clarify the situation.
  • Provide a quit notice that clearly conveys how much you are owed and the final due date by which the debt must be cleared. It is ok to tell about your intent to evict.

Should none of the above-mentioned measures help, feel free to report your tenant to the credit bureaus and start the eviction process.

Why Reporting Tenants to the Credit Bureaus?

Just like good behavior calls for appraisal, bad behavior requires punishment. That’s the way the world wags. Dealing with delinquent tenants is tiresome and annoying, and it’s likely to result not in your favor. However, there is one thing you can do to lighten things up. And this is reporting unfaithful tenants to a credit bureau.

Under the best circumstances, this decision can even help you get the owed rent money or compensation for the damage caused by a tenant. But reporting to a credit bureau is not only about money; there is a higher purpose behind it. When you report an irresponsible tenant, you save other landlords from running into the same trap by renting their apartments out to unfaithful people. Although you reveal the problem of only one person, and it may seem like a drop in the ocean, it still matters.

How to Report a Delinquent Tenant?

The answer to this question depends greatly on your regular landlord’s behavior. Experience shows us that all landlords fall into two camps. Those who report tenants regularly and those who do not care about it at all. Depending on which camp you belong to, your course of action will be different.

If You Report Regularly

If you report both the good and the bad about your tenant’s behavior on a regular basis, all you need to do is keep up with this activity. Your claim will be registered automatically.

There is a great virtue about regular reports. Firstly, it disciplines your tenants to pay on time since they know that their paying behavior is under supervision. Secondly, it’s easier for you to report a delayed payment or any other problem with your tenant once you are already a regular client of the credit bureaus.

If You Don’t Report Regularly

If you prefer not to trouble yourself with monthly reports, things get a little bit harder. But it is still not rocket science, so you will sure be able to figure things out.

First and foremost, you need to understand that there are many different bureaus you can report to. The chief among them are Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, and they are also known as ‘the big three.’ Each one maintains a consumer credit database of its own, and you need to become a registered client to be able to report information. If you fail to subscribe, your information will not be included in a tenant’s credit history. Subscription requirements vary by the bureau, but they are usually limited to paying registration fees and having required equipment to be able to submit reports electronically.

The next step you need to take is associated with collecting necessary documentation. If your tenant is guilty of delayed payments, you’ll need to provide unpaid bills to support your claim. If your problem is related to the damage your tenants refuse to pay for, then you’ll have to provide photos that illustrate and vouch for the problem.

The last but not least, you will need your tenant’s social security number. Although some landlords believe that the habit of collecting SNN numbers has already sunk into oblivion, it is better to be safe than sorry.   

What Else Do You Need to Know About Reporting Tenants?

  • Rental information falls into the category of ‘alternative credit data,’ meaning that you are not obliged to report the credit information of your tenants, but you can do this at your own discretion.
  • Since negative reports to the credit bureau are damaging to the tenants, you hold a legal responsibility of updating all information both timely and accurately. Make sure to notify the credit bureaus once the debt is paid.
  • According to the law, you must notify your tenant about a negative report within 30 days from the moment of submitting a report.
  • You hold a legal and moral responsibility to report only accurate information. Otherwise, you’ll become a subject of civil penalties or fines.  

As you can see, reporting rent to credit bureaus is a little confusing, but it is nowhere close to impossible. If you made it here, you know why and how to report your tenants to the credit bureau and you can explain in detail why this measure is necessary. Armed with knowledge, you are one step ahead of the majority of landlords.

View Comments

  • Thank you for this post!!! I was having problems with a tenant and since I read this, I could find a solution!
    Thank you so much!

  • This is an interesting topic that is not often talked about amongst property owners. I appreciate your simple explanation of why you might consider reporting a terrible tenant to a credit bureau. You are right when you say that you are helping future landlords that are looking to lease to a tenant, that may not otherwise know to be a bad tenant. And, since tenant screening is so important when it comes to approving a tenant to live a rental home, this can be beneficial. As you mentioned, just make sure you only report accurate information. You do not want to find yourself in a legal dispute because you retaliated against a problem tenant in the wrong way. Thanks again for sharing!

    • I was a tenant of a large apartment complex. I always paid my rent on time faithfully Landlords are not always the best. Landlords have responsibility as well as tenants. Maintenance wise if a tenant puts in to have something repaired I think they should respond ASAP. I suffered 30 days without a when it should had been replaced from beginning. Eveutally it got replaced. I did not know about 7 day notice to Landlords at that point. It's a long story but most Landlords are money hungry and don't care about what they need to fix in a timely manner because it happened to me. This same company I gave them 7 day notice to come fix a window that came completely out of Frame after tornado came thru. Someone finally came to look at it with the maintenance guy. I was told by the window company they had to replace the whole window. I was told by maintenance guy they probably not gonna fix it. They got 7 days I stated per Florida tenant law. I still gave them about 20 days and I never heard anything else about the window getting fixed. I sent manager email to let them know im moving out due to them failing to comply with my 7 day notice. I moved out. You have bad landlord as well as bad tenant.

  • I can say this. I have yet to find out a way to join any of the three credit bureaus to be able to report as an individual landlord. I would probably hate to hear the price it would cost to do since it is actually hard to get credit reports about a person from them. I think I had Assist-To-Sell offer to do it for me at a cost of $50 through them, I have only found that taking them to court for a judgement is one of the few ways to get it on their report or winning the eviction itselfs. Which is a hard thing to accomplish in most states in a reasonable time period. It took a over a month in my state to get a court date since they knew to answer the eviction. It is very hard for a small landlord to get this on another's credit report but there are ways I have been told. Turning it over to a collection agency that reports to the bureaus is one way I believe but I am not completely sure if it really goes in a place on their report that businesses look at regularly. It does stink, You would think a lease would be in place to help both parties but in fact, the judicial system is the actual problem.

  • My tenant, Holistix by the Sea broke their lease without any warning owing me about $320,000 in rent. They partially paid back about $95,000 in security, but never returned the original keys. Who do I report that to?

    • Open an enterprise subscription account with one of the three major credit reporting bureaus--Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Pay all the corresponding fees and gather necessary documentation that would support your claim about delayed payments.

      • What’s the required equipment TransUnion mentions one needs in addition to a paid subscription to submit to them an online late/ no payment by Tenant?

  • Very helpful article and helpful accompanying comments listed below. Good food for thought and direction!

  • Can a landlord give you a negative report if you’re still living in the apartment?
    How long after does the landlord have to wait before giving a negative report

  • Can we report a delinquent tenant, even if, there was NO NOTICE of this possibility in our application for the tenant & in the lease documents?
    Very important, will review this site for an answer

  • Hello,
    What are the laws regarding delinquency? My leasing office reported to the credit bureau when I was 6 days late for rent. My direct deposit did not go through on the 1st of the month as usual because my account was on hold pending a fraudulent transaction. I was in constant communication with my landlord during the 6 days my account was locked, and they agreed to not charge a late fee.

    I just found out on my credit report that they reported me delinquent. Is this legal?

  • I too am the victim of a tenant who refuses to pay rent for three months. I stood with her because she was in a car accident thinking she would pay it back. Unfortunately she will not pay back. Very nasty and called me names.I never did anything to hurt her and never bothered her. I thought we were friends which I know now keep it business. She leaves me no choice except to report her to credit bureau and to evict her. The sons name appeared on lease and As I understand he should be notified but he too is very nasty and
    Hung up on me.

  • I have a court decision and order for my tenant (cousin) to pay what he owed to me for rent. I never worried to get his social security. What can I do to report him.

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