Two lawsuits highlight legal snags surrounding tenant screening

tenantriskverification June 1, 2012 0

Two recent lawsuits dealing with the deaths of tenants by other tenants could change the face of tenant screening. The first lawsuit was against the Charlotte (N.C.) Housing Authority over a case in which a victim was strangled to death in her apartment (in a public housing complex managed by the Charlotte Housing Authority) by a neighbor who had a history of violence, drug-related offenses and mental illness. The estate of the victim sued the housing authority, saying it had failed to properly screen the killer.

The court found in favor of the victim’s estate, concluding that the Housing Authority had failed to conduct a thorough enough criminal records search. According to testimony, the Housing Authority only does local or state-wide criminal searches; a more thorough background check that included other states would have revealed the applicant’s criminal past.

The second lawsuit involved a large judgment against a Cook County, IL, landlord. In this case the court found that the landlord failed to follow his own screening policies when he allowed the perpetrator to move in.

Landlords should stay up-to-date on legal and legislative trends that impact the tenant screening process. Work with your tenant screening service to make sure you are fully compliant with state and federal consumer reporting laws.

Also, avoid a blanket policy regarding criminal convictions. Rather, develop a list of offenses you judge to be relevant to the tenancy. And decide on a statute of limitations for considering an old offense as possible reason for not renting to someone. The standard for many states is any offense for which the date of final disposition (release from prison, parole, etc.) is more than 7 years old.

Source : alwaysscreenblog

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