What Landlords, Employers and Lenders See on Your Credit Report

Posted by Sam Griffin in Credit Check on 29 January 2018

Your credit report is likely to be viewed many times during your life - often at key moments. While you might expect this when you’re about to apply for a mortgage or a car loan, it may also be checked by a prospective landlord or employer, and just like lenders, there are some key pieces of information they’re looking for that can make or break your job application or property rental.

It’s therefore vital that you know how each group is likely to assess you.

You can see your credit file as it appears to prospective landlords, employers and lenders by switching the view on your checkmyfile credit report between Lenders and Employers/Landlords when you are logged into your account.

If you haven't already, you can try checkmyfile FREE for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month after. You'll get complete access to the UK's most detailed credit report, and professional support if required.

What do lenders see?

Lenders are perhaps the most frequent viewers of credit file information. They will assess your entire credit report when considering any application for borrowing, which crucially includes a record of how you’ve managed credit accounts with other lenders in the past.

Payment history

Your report holds credit payment history for the past 6 years; that means if you’ve had any kind of loan, mortgage, credit card or other form of finance in that time, it will be recorded here. Lenders look for this information in particular because it shows them whether you have made payments on time, any late payments or serious arrears, and the amount of borrowing you have (as well as associated credit limits) - all of which shows them how reliable and loyal a customer you may be.

As long as an account remains open it will be reported on your credit file, and is generally updated once a month. If accounts have been open longer, then only the last 6 years of payment information will show. Adverse information is generally removed automatically after six years, so doesn’t have a negative impact forever.

Data sharing like this is operated under something known as the Principles of Reciprocity – essentially only those organisations that share information about how you manage credit accounts is allowed to access it. This means that people such as private landlords won’t be able to see the same level of detail.

Bank accounts that are not related to credit agreements (such as basic debit accounts or savings accounts) do not appear on your credit report so cannot be seen by lenders. For that reason you may have to volunteer information about your annual salary and monthly outgoings when you apply for finance.

Financial associations

Any financial associations you have will also be visible to lenders. A financial association is an individual with whom you’ve applied for a joint credit agreement – like a joint bank account or mortgage. These individuals can have a direct impact (both good and bad) on your own ability to get credit.

This means that, if a lender sees negative information on your associations’ credit files, it could reflect poorly on you. Conversely, if your association has a great credit history, this can work in your favour. To be safe, it’s a good idea to check your credit report and remove any financial associations (known as financial disassociation) that are incorrect or no longer relevant.

Other credit applications

Often referred to as footprints, any recent credit applications will also show up when lenders perform a credit check.

There’s a popular misconception that says too many searches can harm your overall credit score and put off potential lenders. While there’s an element of truth in this, it’s only natural that borrowers will want to shop around for the best deal, with many lenders only offering a final APR after conducting a credit check. Unless you made an unusually large number of applications in a short amount of time, which could trigger a potential fraud warning, you are unlikely to be turned down for credit as a result of this.

Searches can also show in relation to things like identity checks, insurance applications and you accessing your own credit report. These will not impact your ability to get credit.

Electoral Roll status

Lenders can also see your Electoral Roll status, which is publicly available information. Your Electoral Roll status is hugely important to your credit file, as it’s seen as evidence that your most recent address is still your current one, so if money does have to be recovered, they know where to start. If the Electoral Roll information is wrong or missing at an agency, this could impact on your ability to get credit.

If you’re not showing up as registered to vote on your credit report, it could either mean you’re not registered to vote or that the credit reference agencies are not reporting your electoral status correctly. You can find out if you’re registered to vote by contacting your local council.

Court information

Another significant part of a credit report is recorded court information, which like your electoral status, is also publicly available. Any record of a County Court Judgment or insolvency (even if it’s reflected as settled/discharged) will severely impact a lender’s perception of your credit worthiness because they indicate past credit management issues and therefore risk.

Lenders can find this information by going to one of the three main UK credit reference agencies: Equifax, Callcredit, and Experian, which in turn take information from organisations such as Registry Trust.

What can landlords see?

Landlords also routinely run checks on potential tenants but, unlike with lenders, the information available to them is purely public – this means that credit account history (credit cards/loans etc.), financial associations, and past credit applications will be hidden from them. These are called “soft-searches” and are used regularly by landlords, employers and insurance companies.

Why do they search my credit file?

Landlords want to know that the person they’re letting into their property is who they say they are; they can do this, which is corroborated by checking your Electoral Roll status at current and previous addresses lines up with what you’ve provided.

They will also check for Court information to gain an idea of whether there has been any serious issue in the past with reclaiming payments. As the landlord has no visibility of your previous credit agreements, this is the best insight they can get from your credit file as to into whether you have a seriously troubled repayment history. As a result, the presence of any court information can make a big difference to the outcome of your application.

Landlords will often ask for proof of income, in the form of a reference or payslip, as a means of assessing whether you are likely to be able to afford the monthly rent.

What can employers see?

In the past, credit checks carried out by employers were mostly reserved for roles in the financial sector, but increasingly jobs in other sectors have become subject to them. Like the checks carried out by landlords, this is usually a soft search, which only shows your publicly-available information.

For most employers they will use a credit search simply to verify that you are who you say you are, though court information may also be of interest. A recent insolvency, bankruptcy or CCJ could be seen by an employer as an additional cause of stress which could distract from your working responsibilities. Most employers would likely be open to a dialogue about the circumstances leading to this however, and few are likely to turn you down solely for this information being present without wanting to discuss it with you first.

Your address (and in some cases, previous addresses) are likely to be verified as well, and although this information not matching up to your report is unlikely to cost you the job, you can always check ahead of time that this information is being reported correctly by all four agencies to save the embarrassment of telling your potential new employer that you just never got around to updating your bank address or registering to vote.

Can an employer see my credit score?

No. Employers running soft/enquiry searches will not be able to see your credit score. For the few employers that run a full search, your score should not affect the outcome of your application, though factors that can contribute to a lower score (such as fraud alerts or CCJs) may do.

When is a ‘full search’ run?

While less common than soft searches, full searches may be used for jobs in the financial sector, or that will involve working closely with sensitive data. A full search is used to show evidence of your credit agreements as this can be used to assess whether an applicant is under severe financial stress, and therefore more of a fraud risk.

Before running a credit check on you, your potential employer will need your permission to do so- you have the right to deny this request, but this may not be a popular decision and could end up costing you the job.

To make sure you’re in good stead with employers, lenders and landlords when they check your credit report, you can make sure you stand your best chance by checking all of the information being reported on you by the credit reference agencies is correct and up-to-date.

You can view your credit report online and see what lenders, landlords and employers see with checkmyfile. If you’re not already a member you can sign up FREE for 30 days and then £14.99 a month.

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