Laws regulating tenant screening change on a consistent basis. Understanding as well as complying with these changes can be a challenging task for small unit property managers or landlords. Additionally before selecting a tenant screening company to work with it is critical to fully vet the third-party background screening company’s ability to remain compliant with local, state, and federal law.
Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com, suggests: “Working with a third-party tenant screening company is the best and, perhaps, most logical, way of conducting tenant screening. However, before one picks a tenant screening company to work with you should do a little research and make sure they understand and are in compliance with local, state and Federal laws that regulate tenant screening.”
Recently, in the state of Washington, the ACLU has filed suit against a tenant screening company for violating state law.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who says her decades-old drug convictions cost her a chance to rent an apartment—a violation of Washington state law.
States have different policies and procedures in place and it is up to the employer to understand nuances of the state(s) operated in. Partnering with a good third-party background screening company can greatly assist with rapidly changing laws as well as with long standing regulations. For instance, convictions over seven years cannot be used as part of the vetting process for tenant screening in the state of Washington.
“A tenant without the experience and understanding of law can put a landlord or property manager at risk. Ensuring a third-party is competent with current law is critical. In depth conversations and a critical review of knowledge as well as talking to more than one company is a good start. Another way to vet a tenant screening company is to check their industry memberships. Many third-party’s of good standing are members of NAPBS. (National Association of Professional Background Screeners),” Almeida said.
A suite of proposals in the Oregon Senate could let landlords require tenants to purchase rental insurance while restricting the criminal history the landlords can consider in vetting prospective tenants.
The use of Criminal Histories remains in the news due to the release of the EEOCs Guidance on the use of such records in pre-employment background screening. But the use of Criminal Histories is increasingly under scrutiny in other areas, such as with Tenant Screening.
“The use of important background screening records such as criminal histories can be confusing. A well-qualified third-party tenant screening company can guide a landlord or property manager as to what can and cannot be used.” Almeida said.
The Oregon legislation is attempting to define where criminal histories play a role in tenant screening.
This article originally appeared on virtual-strategy