TOPIC: Re:Applicant Rental History Verification

Re:Applicant Rental History Verification 11 years 4 months ago #3725

Here's a good one for you: How about Independent Senior Living Communities that ONLY check criminal background? No other verifications...not income, not rental history...nothing. Have any of you ever seen this? I haven't!

Amazingly, because the Senior population generally pay their bills on time, they haven't been burned yet but I see it coming!

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Re:Applicant Rental History Verification 11 years 4 months ago #3726

I actually manage a 62+ community. We still screen all applicants for criminal, credit, and rental. However if their credit is not in our acceptable range we will most likely still accept them (pending the outcome of the other screening) with a larger deposit. So far we have only had this happen once.

Re:Applicant Rental History Verification 11 years 4 months ago #3727

Thanks for bringing this up Tami. You of course speak correctly however it's easy to confuse the difference. We are our own "Investigative Consumer reporting agencies" and so therefore when I discuss online I speak about the quick, fast (not as indepth) results. You are correct. There are really 3 types. Doing it yourself, Computer/Database Consumer reporting agencies, and Investigative Consumer reporting agencies. Where they are really isn't relevant to our discussion. I stand corrected.

Re:Applicant Rental History Verification 11 years 4 months ago #3729

One of the properties I was at was a Tax Credit property, and the screening included credit, criminal, and eviction checks. When a potential match was found in the criminal or eviction database (as is possible with names that may be common like Jones or Smith); we would send a message to the service asking for an identity confirmation. With credit, we were looking for applicants that has open collections for utilities and declining them until resolved (meaning the debt was paid, or forgiven with proof by the provider). This was for any utility for any amount (even if it was $5)

Re:Applicant Rental History Verification 11 years 4 months ago #3730

Wow. I didn't think my question would create such a conversation, but I'm glad we're talking about this...

After reading all of the responses, I find it very curious that when it comes to screening, no one seems to consider Fair Housing. Just FYI... I'm not taking sides either way. I just want to hear what everyone has to say.

Every other topic whether it has to do with pricing to amenity hours seems to ultimately end up with "well, because of Fair Housing" and the solution is always black and white.

How can you possibly request information about someone's rental history and make a judgment without seeming biased? We've all said "bad rental history" would be declined. What is "bad rental history?"

Is it more than one late payment? Why are there exceptions to bad credit if they always pay rent on-time?

Also, if someone says they wouldn't rent to them again can you really use that against them? What if the person who is making the recommendation had a bias against your applicant? You wouldn't know it, but you end up continuing the biased behavior.

It all just seems very funny to me. Honestly, I think screening should be more black and white. I realize most people would say that's not the best way, but doesn't something else increase your liability to a lawsuit?

Again, I'm not taking either side. I'm just curious.

Re:Applicant Rental History Verification 11 years 4 months ago #3731

Sorry - two copies of same post. My mistake.
Last edit: by Christopher Higgins. Reason: Duplicate posting

Re:Applicant Rental History Verification 11 years 4 months ago #3732

David - that is an excellent follow-up question. In a very small group of cities, credit and criminal history can be a protected class. But because their is no federal fair housing protection that lists credit, criminal history or rental/housing background, and non state-wide that I am aware of, it can be "discriminated" against. I say in my fair housing seminars that some of the only legal things you can pick on is someone's income or credit. A law to treat everyone equally cannot require us to make risky decisions. The part that does occasionally lead to lawsuits is when a landlord or management company goes by "gut" and doesn't have a stated list of criteria. I can't tell you the number of times an old landlady has told me on a shop "oh, you look nice, I won't even bother with the application or fee." If one couple goes in and gets denied because of an eviction from four years ago, and they happen to be black, and another couple goes in with an eviction four years ago and they are approved, and happen to be white, there is no way for a landlord to support his decision. The couple can claim they were discriminated against. A landlord is free to make their criteria very stringent, or relatively weak. As long as they enforce it consistently. For instance with this discussion we have been having, I always deny anyone who answers yes to a bankruptcy, drug arrest or eviction. That is a blanket policy and I don't make any exceptions. No exception=No fair housing issues.
Last edit: by Christopher Higgins.

Re:Applicant Rental History Verification 11 years 4 months ago #3733

Let's take criminal history specifically. What can/do you do when you discover that an applicant (or worse, current resident) is registered (or is required to) as a sex offender? Can you take the context of the charge into consideration?

For example; let's take applicant 'A' who comes up as a registered sex offender as the result of a 10 year old charge from when he was 18 and his girlfriend was 16 (and they had been seeing each other for a year or more) and it was not a breakup that would be considered amicable. This charge, whether filed by the girl or her family; would require him to register for life. The types of offenses that would require a person to register as a sex offender are so broad, that we need an attorney experienced in criminal law to interpret them.

Another example: Resident 'B' has a child who is convicted of a sex offense, and is released from prison. Resident 'B's child has no place to go and needs to stay with family. Because the child is probably 18, you need him to fill out an application for residency. Can you deny the child?

Re:Applicant Rental History Verification 11 years 4 months ago #3734

Johnny, you may have missed your calling - I think you should be a social worker or maybe work for HUD! Kidding, of course. I just don't tend to listen to all of these details, I DO try and make it pretty black and white. If I find an applicant or prospective resident is a sex offender, that is an automatic denial or eviction. A "child" that is a sex offender, probably is over the age of 18. My application and criteria clearly state that all occupants over 18 must qualify INDIVIDUALLY, which means they meet all current criteria, including the criminal element. If they can't qualify, they can't occupy.

I had a friend in high school with a similar issue as the one you describe. He was 17 and had a younger girlfriend, and the bad parents of that girlfriend decided to pursue him as a sex offender rather than accepting responsibility, and reality, for what their daughter had engaged in. So he registers as a sex offender. But I am not law enforcement, and I am not the judicial system. I am a landowner who doesn't want to be sued, and adherence to a strict set of criteria has kept me clear. Gray areas get us in trouble in housing.
Last edit: by Christopher Higgins.

Re:Applicant Rental History Verification 11 years 4 months ago #3735

Johnny - Let's remove "sex offense" from your scenario and change it to "burglary."

Would you allow someone who has an adult child that was convicted of burglary to move-in to your community?

My guess is the answer would be "no."

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