Claims against property owners for tenant screening discrimination can be both timely and expensive. Denying someone to move into your property due to a low credit score is different that denying someone to do the race or ethnicity they are. They are questions and actions that you should and should not take to ensure you are getting a qualified tenant for your property. Below are a few of the actions to avoid and ones to follow.
What not to do:
Advertising your property and stating that certain races, ethnic groups, or religions need not apply would be a form of discrimination. Steering a potential renter for a property is also not allowed. You should not steer someone away from a property such as if someone has kids and you advise them a high floor unit would not be good for you. You should let the tenants make that decision for them. Discrimination based on a prospective tenant’s disability or handicap may not be considered discrimination if they are not approved because a landlord may be required to make reasonable accommodations in this situation.
What to do:
It is lawful to ask all potential renters to fill out a rental application and run a background check on each as choosing to have some renters not take part in the process may be considered discrimination as some people were treated differently. The biggest thing to keep in mind for screening tenants is to keep your screening objective.
This can be done by:
- requiring a certain number of positive references
- a positive reference from a previous landlord
- a credit history and eviction report to be performed
- having sufficient income to pay the rent
To recap, discrimination with potential tenants is something that should be taken seriously. First violations can have penalties of up to $10,000. The best idea is to have an objective screening in process in place so that all tenants are screened the same and fairly.