Should You Unfreeze Your Credit For a Rental Application in New York?

Learn what you need to know about freezing & unfreezing your credit and ways to qualify for a NYC apartment while protecting yourself from identity theft.

Personal finance and cybersecurity experts all agree that you need to do certain things to protect yourself after a data breach.

If you have been the victim of identity theft, this may already something heavily weighing on your mind.

One of the more important things experts suggest is to freeze your credit. Freezing your credit can be beneficial, but can also be problematic if you want to move.

Before you start sending out applications for an apartment in Manhattan, it’s a good idea to learn about how credit freezes can impact your ability to find an apartment. This guide will help you out.

Unfreezing Credit to Rent an Apartment

  • Freezing your credit does not hurt your credit score and can help you protect yourself against identity theft.
  • Freezing and unfreezing your credit does take some effort and time, as it has to be done individually through the three credit-reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
  • Because freezing your credit won't allow anyone to pull your credit, you may be prevented from qualifying from renting an apartment or getting a loan.
  • You can allow an exception for a landlord to pull your credit without completely unfreezing your credit.
  • If you are applying for multiple apartments in a short span of time, each one is a hard pull and will negatively affect your credit.

Credit Freezing 101: What To Know

Before we get started with the details about how credit freezes impact apartment applications, it’s a good idea to know a little more about the credit freezing process.

Why Should You Freeze Your Credit?

Experts agree that freezing your credit should be done whenever you have been a victim of data breach or identity theft.

It’s a protective measure that is mostly used as damage control after your information has been exposed.

Some credit experts also suggest freezing your credit preventatively because it adds an extra layer of protection for your information.

This is a good option if you’ve been repeatedly victimized by identity theft in the past.

Sometimes people even face the situation of family members who don't respect boundaries.

Say your brother has ruined his own credit, and now wants to lease a car. He might ask you to help out or go ahead and apply for a line of credit in your name without your knowledge.

Freezing your credit can help you ward off bad credit and bad behavior from loved ones.

How Do I Freeze My Credit?

If you want to freeze your credit, you need to contact each credit bureau directly in order to make it happen.

You will need to provide personal information to verify that it’s you. Then, you will need to request a freeze.

You can reach each major bureau using the information below:

How to Freeze Your Credit
Credit Reporting BureauContact
EquifaxYou can reach out via their website or by phone.
ExperianCredit freezes at this bureau can be done online or via phone.
TransUnionTransUnion allows credit freezes via their website or via phone.

How Do You Know Your Credit Is Frozen?

If you have never requested a credit freeze, then your credit isn’t frozen.

No one can request a credit freeze except the person who owns the credit history: YOU!

What Does a Credit Freeze Do?

Freezing your credit prevents others from pulling your credit report, and also can prevent anyone from opening up accounts in your name.

It’s a way to ensure that fraudsters have a hard time opening new accounts or using your own personal information against you.

Can Freezing Your Credit Hurt or Help Your Score?

A freeze doesn’t do anything to your score, per se.

It only makes sure that fraudsters won’t access your report or open new accounts in your name.

If you need to curb the impulsive behavior of applying for new credit cards, then freezing your credit might also help you kick the habit and help you focus on paying down your balances.

In this sense, it might help your score.

Are There Any Alternatives to Freezing Your Credit?

You can try and lock your credit cards if you suspect that someone is using them.

This will require you to call each one of your credit card companies and requesting a stop on them, which can be time-consuming if you have many.

This also means that you will not be able to use any of your credit cards.

However, if someone has your social security number, along with other personal identifiers, it will not prevent them from applying for loans, etc.

Another popular method is using a credit-monitoring service.

There are countless third-party services like Credit Karma, Identity Force, myFICO, etc. The credit-reporting agencies themselves also offer credit-monitoring services.

Your Rental Application And Your Credit

It’s no secret that landlords in New York City check credit scores when they screen tenants.

In fact, it’s one of the top things landlords look for in a rental application.

Here’s what to know about your freeze and your potential landlords…

Will Having a Credit Freeze Block Landlords From Running Credit Checks?

Yes. The entire purpose of a credit freeze is to make it impossible for new creditors to pull up credit reports.

This means that your landlord will not be able to pull up a report from a bureau if you have a credit freeze with that particular bureau.

Can My Application Still Go Through Without a Credit Report?

Probably not. Most landlords will automatically reject a person who refuses to consent to a credit check, and rightfully so.

Taking in a tenant without a credit check would be a massive risk to the landlord.

Truth be told, a credit report check is so important, most landlords won’t even take paperwork from an applicant who refuses to get their credit pulled.

So, in order to get a chance at that rental, you will need to unfreeze your credit.

How To Unfreeze Your Credit

If your credit has been frozen, you will need to unfreeze your credit. Unfreezing your credit is fairly simple.

You will need to contact each bureau, provide information in order to verify your identity, and then ask to unfreeze your credit.

The information and numbers you need to unfreeze your credit are the same as the ones you’d use to freeze it.

Now that you know the basics, it’s important to learn some of the more important details about your credit freeze and you rights.

Can I Keep My Credit Frozen But Make an Exception For the Landlord?

Yes, actually you can.

You would have to call up your potential landlord and ask them which credit bureau they would be using as well as any program or name they’d use as the inquirer name.

Once you get the information, you can call up that specific bureau to make an exception to the credit freeze.

If you only learn which bureau your score gets pulled from, you can also opt to unfreeze that bureau and keep the other two frozen.

What If I Don’t Want to Keep My Credit Reports Unfrozen?

That’s not a problem. Credit bureaus allow users to choose between temporary and permanent freezing lifts.

If you don’t want to have your credit unfrozen for a long time, opting for a temporary lift for a set amount of time is your best course of action.

Does Freezing and Unfreezing Credit Cost Anything?

Nope. It was made free through a recently passed law as a way to empower citizens to protect their data.

How Long Does It Take for Credit to Have a Freeze Removed?

It’s common to see bureaucracy make paperwork run slow, but when it comes to credit freezes, this is not the case.

You can pull a credit report in as little as an hour after a credit freeze is lifted.

That being said, you should probably unfreeze it a day or two before just to make sure it will work. Glitches can happen, and it’s wise to work things out sooner rather than later.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
About the author

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer for PropertyNest and writes on all things New York City real estate.