Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax recently announced that they will remove medical collection debt from credit reports starting July 2022. This will clear out roughly 70% of medical debt from the credit reports of US consumers. Another planned change is extending the timeline of reporting unpaid medical bills from six months to one year.
This will give consumers more time to settle their medical debt before it can impact their credit reports. These major reports come on the heels of allegations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that the credit bureaus allow inaccuracies in their credit reports. The CFPB also found $88 billion in unpaid medical debt as of June 2021.
Purging most of these records wiped out tens of billions of dollars in debt from consumer credit reports.
These changes can have a few minor impacts on the tenant screening process.
The End of Reporting Paid Medical Collections
The credit bureaus will no longer record paid medical collections on a persons’ credit report. This means that the only medical debt on your renters’ report will be for bills sent to a collection agency.
Reporting for Unpaid Medical Collections Will Continue
The credit bureaus will continue to report unpaid medical debt but will extend the reporting timeline from six months to 12 months. This debt will be reported for a period of seven years. At the time of writing, the bureaus allow unpaid accounts to be reported right after they are dispatched to collection agencies.
Paying off medical debt should clear out the record within 45 days.
Small Unpaid Debts to be Discarded from 2023
Starting in the first half of 2023, the credit bureaus have decided to purge all unpaid medical debt amounting to less than $500, although there are plans to increase this threshold.
Major Changes for Reporting Paid Collections
Besides the paid medical debt, the credit bureaus will now remove a consumer’s credit report instead of retaining it for seven years. Before this change, your tenant’s credit score would have shown past collections they paid, but now these will be removed from their report.
What do the Changes Mean for Tenant Applications?
The credit report changes of 2022 could impact the tenant screening process for landlords and property managers. Removing unpaid accounts from a tenant’s credit report does not forgive the debt and will play a role in their ability to cover the rent.
Moreover, it would be more difficult to learn about a potential tenant’s financial responsibility with payments if the paid collections are removed from their credit reports.
The idea is that a potential tenant’s history of paid collections would shed light on their financial habits, such as paying their bills, utilities, and rent on time. Most landlords and property managers prioritize tenants with a demonstrable history of paying their bills on time.
Other Changes to Tenant Applications
Some states have enacted changes landlords will have to consider when screening potential tenants. For example, Oregon restricts landlords from denying an applicant if they incurred debt during the pandemic. This law will stay in effect until 2028. You should check how changes to your local and state laws might impact the tenant screening process.
More Changes are to be Expected
In addition to the recent changes pledged by the credit bureaus, the government has taken steps to create guidelines for federal credit reporting to regulate how agencies can collect the data. This legislation would create an all-new publicly governed credit reporting bureau if it is passed.
It is vital to stay informed and in the loop about upcoming changes to credit reports and make the necessary changes to your tenant screening process. It is highly recommended to get in touch with a professional property manager near you to stay on the right side of local laws while also being fair with applicants interested in renting your apartment.
Stay tuned to this space to learn about new updates.