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If you rent, a new plan could help improve your credit and save you money

NEW YORK — A person's credit score, the rating that shows lenders whether the person is a high risk to which to lend money, is determined by a variety of factors. However, the biggest expense that most New Yorkers incur -- their rent -- is not one of those factors.

A proposal rolled out on Monday would change that, by adding rent to the calculus by which credit ratings are figured. It would be a big financial boost for most New Yorkers if it were to become law. However, getting to the point of it becoming law could be a long shot.

"I personally think that's great," Bronx resident Hector Pagan said about the plan, "because it would help people establish credit."

That's what the plan is intended to do, according to its originator New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

"When you [pay rent] on time," Stringer said, "that means you're a good credit risk, and that could help your family."

He told PIX11 News that people who own their homes get a boost to their credit rating every time they make timely payments on their mortgage. The same would become true for reliable renters under the proposal Stringer introduced with a coalition of housing advocates.

Currently, rent payments do not figure into credit score ratings. If they were to do so, New York would be the first major city make it so.

"When you apply your rent as part of your credit history," Stringer told PIX11 News, "that'll give you an opportunity to better take care of your family."

Stringer admitted that even though the coalition of more than a dozen affordable housing advocacy groups are joining in his revised credit score plan, in order for it to become law, he has to get financial institutions, landlord groups and legislators to all join in the effort.

That has not yet happened.

However, the release of Stringer's proposal happens to have occurred just over two weeks before he's up for reelection.

Stringer insisted that there is no correlation between the two. In fact, Stringer, a Democrat with a distinguished record in a largely Democratic city, is expected to do well at the polls on Nov. 7.

"We've been working on this plan for two years," Stringer said.

His office's analysis shows that a large majority -- 79 percent -- of people who would opt in to the rent payment credit score consideration would see their credit scores go up. That would in turn save them money.

A variety of financial services and resources set their rates based on a client's credit score, including auto loan rates, insurance rates and credit card limits. Rates tend to be much lower, and credit card limits higher, for people with good or excellent credit.