How to Legally Screen a New Tenant

When it comes to tenant screening it helps to get into a process, but you don't want that process to become so routine that you forget to check on laws that have been updated or make assumptions that may turn out to be wrong. We have listed a few topics you may want to think about below, covering issues as recent as the new HUD guidelines to how to handle the Fair Housing Laws as they apply to a number of different situations.

New HUD Guidelines - You may have heard about a new set of guidelines that the US department of Housing and Urban Development released. These new guidelines may affect the way you approach your tenant screening process, so it's best if you have a firm understanding of what they mean.

Fair Housing Act - The Fair Housing Laws are designed to help fight against discrimination in the rental business. These laws will affect your business from marketing to screening and beyond. Make sure you know them so that you don't find yourself on the wrong end of a discrimination lawsuit.

Protected Classes of Tenants - Under the Fair Housing Laws you will find that certain groups of tenants are protected and that you may not turn them down strictly because they have a connection to that class.

Disabilities Protected - Certain disabilities are protected under the Fair Housing Laws. You will not be able to deny a tenant based on these disabilities and you will be required to make reasonable accommodations for them as tenants.

Denying a Tenant Based on Their Job - There are a variety of reasons you may decide to turn an applicant down for your rental property. Make sure you are turning them down for legal reasons, though, so that you don't find yourself in trouble. You'll want to think about a few things before turning an application down based on the person's job.

Keeping Your Tenants' Information Safe - When you accept applications and go through a tenant screening process you will find that you have access to a lot of personal and private information. You must make sure that you are keeping that information safe and secure.

Information Provided to Credit Reporting Agencies - If you choose to submit information to the credit agencies to add to their files on your tenant so that it may show in later screenings run on them, you will want to make sure that you provide accurate information and that you abide by the guidelines that they set up for you.

Specialized Housing - Choosing a niche in the rental market can be very beneficial, but you'll want to make sure that you are still lining up with the Fair Housing Laws, even if you invest in specialized housing.

Posted on Apr 22, 2016


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