Tenants could find it easier to access finance such as mortgages, with a major credit checking company now including information about rental payments in its reports.
Experian said it is adding the data to credit reports, enabling firms offering finance to take these payments into account in a similar way to mortgages.
For some tenants, this could potentially help them jump on to the property ladder and make it easier to access other types of finance.
Experian is working with mortgage lenders to use rental data to improve their understanding of people’s financial situations.
The credit checking company said more than 150 social housing providers, local authorities and letting agents are reporting data in an initiative called the rental exchange.
It has been developed in partnership with Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of the Big Issue Group.
It is hoped the move will help tenants build a credit history more easily, which could help them access finance if lenders can see they have a good record of keeping up with payments.
Firms will be able to observe rental payments in a similar way to how they look at whether homeowners have kept up with their mortgage payments.
Being able to prove to companies through your credit history that you are reliable can make it quicker and easier to open a bank account, get a new credit card, shop online and arrange a better utilities tariff as well as potentially helping to access a mortgage.
Experian said rental payment information now appears on the Experian credit reports of more than 1.2 million tenants from across the UK.
It said many lenders have outlined their interest in adding rental payment data to their credit decision-making processes, while a number are already testing the data in their systems.
Clive Lawson, managing director of Experian consumer services, said: “Adding rental payment data to credit reports would help millions of people prove their identity so they can access online services and mainstream finance.
“We’re already working with a range of lenders who want to use rental data to improve their understanding of a person’s financial situation so they can make higher quality decisions.”
Experian said council or social housing tenants can ask their landlord to report their rental payment data to the rental exchange.
Private-sector tenants with a large landlord or letting agent can also ask them to report their rental payment data to the rental exchange.
Alternatively, private tenants can self-report their payment data through one of Experian’s partners, such as CreditLadder and Canopy.
John Montague, managing director of the Big Issue Group, said: “We set out with the aim of creating a fairer playing field for people accessing credit because we recognised that people in poverty were routinely penalised.
“The rental exchange has succeeded in making more inclusive data available to credit service providers, and it is this data which has the potential to reduce levels of financial and digital exclusion and improve the circumstances of some of the poorest in our society.”