Does a Late Rent Payment Affect Your Credit?

By Carly Rae Zent

Paying rent at the same time each month can be a challenge, especially if your payday schedule doesn’t align with your landlord’s due date.

Rent is usually a top priority bill for people to pay each month. If the rent isn’t paid, they are taking a chance at not having a roof over their heads for much longer.

Unfortunately, our paycheck schedules don’t always align with the date that rent is due. If your paycheck simply doesn’t come in until the third of the month and rent is due on the first, sometimes it’s just going to be late. Many people would rather not have to deal with taking out a risky payday loan to get through those few days.

Sometimes people get into tighter situations — if an emergency medical bill or some other unexpected expense comes up, people can find themselves behind on rent payments by a month or more, putting their housing, and possibly credit, at risk.

Do landlords report late rent?

The short answer: not always. It’s generally optional for landlords to report late rent. And in order for them to report late rent themselves, they generally need to be a member of a credit reporting bureau, which include Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Because of this, it’s not that common for late rent to appear on credit scores. If you want to be sure, you can go ahead and ask your individual landlord if they do report late rent payments. It’s possible many will say no or say they don’t report them unless late payments are a consistent problem or extremely late. Landlords are people too, so they may react differently in different situations.

There are, however, some caveats to note: If your landlord uses certain kinds of rent payment services, they may automatically report rent to credit bureaus as part of the service. If you need more information about this, this article by Experian has a list of several payment services that offer a credit reporting service.

You’re also more likely to be vulnerable to your landlord reporting late rent if you’re renting from a property management company or another corporate entity. They might have their own policies they follow regarding late rent without taking individual situations into account.

It’s important to note that if you build up debt with a landlord and the debt is sold to a collection agency, the debt will then appear on your credit report, even if the landlord didn’t previously report your payments. A large amount of debt appearing at once could be a major ding to your credit score.

Another important note: Payments should typically be 30 days late before they are reported, so even if you’re perpetually getting in rent just a couple days late, all you may have to worry about is a few late fees and an irritated landlord – although a situation like that is not going to help your cash flow or your landlord’s willingness to be flexible to your situation. Contact your landlord about their reporting policies to know for sure.

How much will a late rent payment ding my score?

It depends. It’s important to remember that recent late payments affect credit scores the most. Since payment history is a whopping 35% of your credit score, according to FICO, it can have a pretty dramatic impact. However, it’s not anything you can’t recover from with time and timely payments.

It’s important to keep in mind the other consequences of your rental history being made public. Landlords tend to run a credit check before renting to someone. Therefore, if you’ve had previous landlords report your late payments to the credit bureaus, as this rental website article discusses, they will see your past rental payment history. Even if you have an otherwise positive credit score, they might decide to turn you down in favor of someone who has always paid rent on time.

There are various ways late rent payments may be reported. For the most accurate prediction on whether yours will be reported, contact your landlord or property management company.

Paying rent can positively affect your credit, too

There is a positive side to all this: If your rent payments are being reported, then paying rent on time can be a great tool for helping you build up your credit. Remember: With credit, it goes both ways.

Have more questions regarding rent and its impact on your credit or cash flow? These articles may point you in the right direction:

The information contained herein is provided for free and is to be used for educational and informational purposes only. We are not a credit repair organization as defined under federal or state law and we do not provide "credit repair" services or advice or assistance regarding "rebuilding" or "improving" your credit. Articles provided in connection with this blog are general in nature, provided for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for individualized professional advice. We make no representation that we will improve or attempt to improve your credit record, history, or rating through the use of the resources provided through the OppLoans blog.