Just like your credit history, which details how responsible you are with debt, you also have a rental history. A poor rental history can limit your choices for a dwelling, and possibly even your ability to own a home. Some companies exist only to compile rent payment history. The credit bureaus might have your rental history as well.
Most companies that sell rental histories -- called a consumer report -- have websites where you can view them. Lexis Nexis is a main source of free information for insurance claims and tenant history. PRBC, formerly known as Pay Rent, Build Credit, is another major player in the rental history industry. You can also check Core Logic Safe Rent, which includes criminal history along with tenant-landlord history. See Resource section.
Credit Rating Bureaus
Historically, the credit rating companies have not reported rental histories, because most apartment complex owners do not have the resources to purchase and maintain the equipment required to report data accurately. In 2009, Experian merged with RentBureau as part of a plan to work rental histories into consumer credit reports. RentBureau compiles data on five million people, so you might just have to pull your credit report -- you receive one free one each year. You should check your credit report anyway, just in case a landlord sent an outstanding balance to a collections agency. Also, landlords frequently use credit as an additional screening method.
You can contact your previous landlords for your rental history. It is a common courtesy for landlords to reveal payment history to any interested party. Keep in mind the landlord can report trouble with anyone associated with you who stayed at your place, such as a friend or family member caught doing an illegal act.
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse suggests asking a potential landlord which tenant screening service he employs. There are dozens of companies in the rental history market and some of do not operate nationwide. Once you find the name of the tenant screening company, you might be able to receive a free rental report as you would a free credit report.