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Rental Reporting: A Lever for Promoting Financial Inclusion

Rental Housing Data: A Lever for Promoting Financial Inclusion

Equitable access to the financial services ecosystem with fair and accurately priced financial products and services is an important part of TransUnion’s commitment to financial inclusion. We take pride in promoting opportunities to help consumers improve their financial health, become more resilient and achieve their dreams, and one key lever for making this possible is rental payment reporting.

“Rent is a big payment consumers are making on a monthly basis,” shared Maitri Johnson, Senior Vice President of Tenant and Employment Screening at TransUnion, during our recent Financial Inclusion by Design podcast. “I always say: if I can get credit for a $25 a month card payment, why can’t I do so for a $1,500 monthly rent payment?”

Unlike taking out a mortgage or opening a credit card, rent — like alternative data from sources including telecommunications payments — doesn’t require consumers to incur debt. Rather, consumers may have the opportunity to add an additional trade line to their credit history through rental payments, if their property manager or landlord reports this data to consumer reporting agencies.

This is a particularly important opportunity, as renters face higher rates of financial hardship. In their 2023 US Trends Report, the Financial Health Network reports three out of ten (30%) renters were financially vulnerable in 2023, compared with 9% of homeowners. In the same study, only 13% of renters considered themselves financially healthy, with the majority (57%) identifying as financially coping.

“The beauty of rental payment data is most people who are thin file, credit invisible or lower income are renters,” explained Samir Goel, Co-Founder of Esusu, in our Financial Inclusion by Design episode. “[Reporting rental data] is a way for us to take consumers who are credit thin or credit invisible and score them in a way that underwriters may use in a risk process.”

Research supports the benefits of reporting rental data, as investing in consumers’ financial health through rental data may create greater economic prosperity for renters. A 2023 TransUnion study from our Tenant and Employment business found that 80% of renters who had their rent payments reported increased their credit scores. Property managers and landlords also emphasized the broad value of reporting rental data to credit reporting agencies:

  • Just over half of respondents (52%) viewed rental reporting as a way to encourage renters to pay on time, and 82% of all renters said they would be more likely to pay rent on time if their payments were reported.

  • The top reason property managers cited for reporting rent payments (86%) was to help renters strengthen their financial position through stronger credit scores.

  • More than half of renters surveyed (58%) were more likely to rent from someone who reports rent payments, with higher representation among younger generations.

  • More than a third of property managers familiar with the practice who TransUnion surveyed said they now report rent payments — and almost half of them began doing so in the past 12 months.

While TransUnion has offered rent payment reporting to property managers since 2014, many still do not report rental payment data — highlighting the need for solutions like TruVision™ Resident Credit to make the process more straightforward.

Learn more about the importance of reporting rental data by listening to our recent podcast series on the topic and by reading our Q&A with Self Financial, and find tips for renters on our blog. You can also get to know TransUnion’s overarching commitment to financial inclusion, including resources and education we provide to empower consumers to responsibly manage their credit and data identity.

Do you have questions? Our team is ready to help.