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Tips for Fair Housing Compliance

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Tips for Fair Housing Compliance

by D. D. of ClearScreening.com

One of the most important things a landlord needs to keep in mind during the tenant screening process is to make sure they are compliant with fair housing regulations. Every applicant must be treated the same regardless of race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (families with children) and the disabled. If a landlord is found guilty of refusing to rent to anyone for any of the described reasons they face fines and criminal penalties.

The best way to avoid claims of discrimination is to be consistent in your tenant screening practices. Perform the same credit and background checks for each and every applicant. Your tenant screening company should be able to recommend the reports that are most commonly run and/or the most targeted for the information you’d like to retrieve. We at ClearScreening recommend at least a credit report and criminal background search. However, an evictions search, which shows any unlawful/forcible detainers and/or civil suits, will help round out your tenant screening package. Once you choose the reports you’d like to run, be sure to run the same reports on every applicant to help ensure that you cannot be accused of discrimination.

Keep a file for each applicant that includes their application, credit report, criminal background search, and records of any reference calls made. Keeping hard copies of everything (we suggest for at least 3 years) will also help prevent any issues where applicants claim they did not give consent for any credit or background searches.

To take your safeguards against discrimination claims a step further, use the automated recommendation/decision capabilities offered by your tenant screening company. The tenant screening system would use a set of guidelines that you establish in coordination with the reports you have chosen to run to automatically recommend if the applicant meets the criteria you are looking for in a tenant. By doing this, you remove the human element – computers do not discriminate. The system may be able to give you multiple levels of approval (i.e. “Approve with Higher Deposit” or “Approve with Co-Signer”) in addition to a standard “Approve” or “Decline”.

If these few guidelines are followed, you, as a landlord, can save a lot of time. The automated recommendation/decision feature of most tenant screening systems not only keeps you safe from claims of discrimination, but also gives you the freedom of not having to inspect each report. By being consistent in your tenant screening process you are more likely to stay compliant with fair housing regulations, saving yourself the time and trouble of any fair housing investigation into your rental practices.

*Please feel free to use/repost this article, but please be sure to link back to our website at https://clearscreening.com.

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