Landlords look at different factors when they evaluate applicants, but credit scores are the most influential metric. The number of points is a summary of your credit past. Consumers who neglect their financial obligations see their scores plunge. As a result, landlords interpret low scores as a red flag for good reason.
These assessments are not always valid, which is why Atlanta credit repair is in high demand. So, how many points do you need, and what are the ways to correct or boost a score? Find out in our guide.
Both FICO and VantageScore, the two most popular scoring models in the United States, have a scale from 300 to 850. You can check your status on My FICO or by downloading apps like Credit Karma. Local and national credit repair agencies will help you gain more points by correcting the information in your reports — read on to learn how.
Fortunately, getting to 850 is not necessary. Just over 1% of citizens manage to reach the excellent category, which is unlocked with 800 points. Most landlords in Atlanta expect you to have at least 620. Applicants with lower scores are turned down as they are associated with a high risk of default on rent.
What If My Score Is Too Low?
If your current level is below the requirement, you may rebuild or restore history depending on its accuracy. It is important to check the score in advance, as both may take several months. First, determine if the assessment is correct by looking at your reports from the three bureaus.
While you could contact each agency separately, this is not necessary. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to download the latest versions of the documents at once. Until April 20, 2022, you can do it for free once a week. Look closely at each entry, paying attention to any inconsistencies. If you see data that should not be there, you may dispute it formally exercising your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. For example, you may notice:
- someone else’s accounts,
- mistakes in amounts,
- false events, such as bankruptcies or repossessions,
- missing positive information.
Note that every version of your history is special because a lender may contact just one or two bureaus, and the agencies do not communicate with one another. Thus, if all three reports are flawed, you need to open three disputes. This is a laborious and time-consuming process, which is why professional restoration services are so popular.
Fixing an Unfair Score
This does not happen overnight. On average, repair takes between two and six months depending on the errors. The industry is regulated by the Credit Repair Organizations Act, which obliges providers to have written contracts, prohibits advanced payments, and more. Here is what the process looks like:
- collecting your information,
- analyzing the contents,
- preparing evidence for the dispute,
- sending customized dispute letters.
As everything is done on your behalf, this option is a great time saver. In the process, the company will communicate with your lenders and collectors (if necessary) to establish the truth and prepare a compelling case for the bureaus.
Dispute letters are usually sent by certified mail with a return receipt requested. After delivery, the bureau has 30 days to investigate the claim and provide a formal reply. If the changes are accepted, you get a free copy of your report and the score jumps automatically once the derogatory marks disappear. However, if the agency manages to verify the disputed items, the total remains unchanged.
Rebuilding a Low Score
If the information in your official file is correct, you may still achieve a boost by working on your borrowing habits. For example, as late payments affect 35% of FICO and 40% of VantageScore, you can see why paying on time every time is absolutely crucial. In addition, you may:
Bring Down the Balances
All of your credit cards are part of the utilization ratio. It is calculated as the sum of balances divided by the sum of limits. Experts recommend sticking to the 30% threshold, but some sources cite 10% as the limit. Thus, if you have several credit cards with a total limit of $6,000, you may only have $2,000 or $600 charged collectively.
Therefore, you should pay off all or some of the balances to achieve the goal. If you cannot afford to do it, make at least the minimum payment to avoid falling behind and try the next tip.
Get More Credit
This is another way to tilt the proportion in your favour. There are several ways to do it, such as asking for a limit extension or getting a new credit card from another issuer. Secured credit cards are easier to get, but they require a deposit. Note that you should not use these new funds if your goal is to boost the rating.
Become an Authorized User
If you know someone with an excellent credit track record, ask them for a favour. Being an authorized user on someone else’s account means that their limit works in favour of your credit utilization. Naturally, you should explain that you are not planning to use the money and that this is only necessary to boost the score.
Pay More Often
If you want a quicker boost, make payments more often than once a month. In this case, your reports will reflect smaller balances, as lenders only share data every month.
Use Experian Boost
This free service from the bureau lets you add around 12 points to the score on average. The idea is that extra payments, such as the HBO subscription or utility bills, also reflect your creditworthiness. Therefore, they can be included in your report.
The Bottom Line
Most landlords in Atlanta expect tenants to have credit scores of at least 620. If your current status is inferior, use the rebuilding or restoration methods we have outlined. If the calculation is wrong, you have the right to demand correction under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.