Evictions: A Tale of Two Cities, Boston and Detroit

Evictions are a common tool utilized by landlords and property managers to remove tenants for a variety of reasons, which could include non-payment of rent, property damage, or some similar breach of a rental contract.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “Evictions are increasingly utilized in rental communities to clear properties for new tenants that could pay significantly more rent.  It is a long and costly process but one that landlords often pursue in not always the most scrupulous path.”

Boston and Detroit are attempting to crackdown on evictions but it is a challenging prospect.

Detroit

The rental market in Detroit is often plagued by scrappers and thieves.  It has become so bad that an informal “24-hour rule” has been put in place.

From The Detroit News website (Oct. 05, 17):

The dozens of working furnaces and water heaters sitting in Chris Garner’s warehouse sit idle because of what he calls his “24-hour rule.”

Within a day of a tenant moving out of one of his Detroit rentals, Garner, the owner of a Taylor-based property management company, has staffers remove the systems and board up the home. It’s all to deter scrappers and thieves. They won’t reinstall, he said, until 24 hours before a new tenant is scheduled to move in. (1)

Challenges are with property owners putting very little money into rental properties, often due to the demands and cost of stringent annual property inspections.  Due to low quality of properties tenants often refuse to pay rent thereby forcing the onset of the eviction process.

The Mayor of Detroit, as well as the City Council, seeks to correct the situation.

From The Detroit News website (Oct. 05, 17):

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and other city officials say part of the solution to improve city rental housing is a landlord crackdown, and last month pledged to launch a campaign to prevent landlords from renting substandard homes. That includes stopping them from collecting rent if they don’t comply with inspections.

The city admits most rentals haven’t been inspected. (2)

Boston

In Boston steps are being taken to better manage evictions.

From the Boston Globe website (Oct. 04, 17)

Boston’s City Council overwhelmingly approved a set of regulations Wednesday that could make it harder for landlords to evict tenants without just cause, while giving city officials better ways to track how many housing evictions are occurring and where.

Called the Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act — named after the late social justice advocate — the measure would require landlords to notify the city whenever they move to evict a tenant, for whatever reason. The city and landlord would then have to alert the tenant to his or her housing rights, such as the ability to appeal to a state Housing Court, and the tenant could be directed to advocacy groups. (3)

These steps are designed to help protect against speculators taking over properties and increasing rents until tenants can no longer afford the rent and either leave or are evicted for failure to pay.

Almeida states:  “Evictions are a challenge.  It is an important tool that landlords need in order to protect their investment but it can be used more maliciously in order to remove existing tenants in favor of potential higher paying tenants.”

Evictions remain a complex tool and one that landlords and property managers should strongly consider before implementing.  A best practice remains to work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening company to remain current and compliant with law.

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party background screening company that provides tenant background checks to landlords and property managers for all sizes and types of rental complexes, including self-storage.  From the single-unit to the large community, TenantScreeningUSA.com has the ability to customize a tenant screening package specific to a managers unique requirements.

Notes:

  • (1)   detroitnews.com/story/news/special-reports/2017/10/05/detroit-evictions-landlords/106351462/
  • (2)   detroitnews.com/story/news/special-reports/2017/10/05/detroit-evictions-landlords/106351462/
  • (3)   bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/10/04/city-council-bill-would-better-regulate-and-track-evictions/pZSRLVJbazy0pIxgWdDyTP/story.html

Landlord-Tenant Relationships are Critical to a Successful Housing Relationship

In September of 2017 Hurricane Harvey ripped through Houston, Texas causing countless millions and billions in damage as well as displacing tens of thousands of people.  Winds from Harvey caused significant damage but the record level rainfall created greater damage.  Homes and apartments were rendered uninhabitable and could remain so for month’s even years.

In a recent article from the Huffington Post (Sep 05, 17):

Under Texas statutes, either a tenant or a landlord can break a lease for residences deemed “totally unusable.” If a property is partially useable, a court would have to determine if rental costs could be reduced.

Meanwhile, hundreds of residents who were forced to evacuate a flooded apartment complex in Katy, Texas, have been given eviction notices, The Houston Chronicle reported.

The residents have been given less than a week to retrieve whatever property they can, a letter from the property manager said. The letter also said rental charges for the last few days of August will be refunded, according to the Chronicle.

Disputes between landlord and tenants are among the first conflicts to emerge in the wake of a hurricane, lawyer Saundra Brown, a disaster manager at Lone Star Legal Aid, told the newspaper. (1)

Conflict between landlord and tenants can be avoided if the situation is handled properly from the very beginning of the relationship.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “From the point of the initial application through the tenant check landlords and property managers need to be very clear as to the exact expectations they have with the applicant.”

Certainly easier said than done in certain instances, but a clear outline of rules and requirements for a tenant is key.

“Landlords need to conduct the same vetting process with each perspective tenant, “Almeida states, “and this continuity goes a long way in creating a positive relationship with tenants.”

Other than the general niceties of an interview process a landlord should explain what each document in a background check covers, what information is drawn, and how it is used. And an agreement should be in place as to conflict resolution, should it arise, and how to communicate any form of grievance.

Almeida states:  “Every state is different in recording conflict but a general rule of thumb is communicating in written form; generally through US Postal or email, where copies can be maintained and reviewed as needed.  And always keep copies of written communication.”

As the housing crisis in the US continues to grow, greater pressure is placed upon tenants and landlords.  Tenants worry that if they bring forth an issue they may face some sort of penalty or potential eviction and landlords are always looking for long-term stable tenants.  Each party has a vested interest in creating an amicable living arrangement and tenant-landlord relationship.

It all begins with the applicant vetting process.

“There are a number of documents reviewed as part of a tenant background check,” Almeida adds, “from consumer credit reports, criminal background checks to eviction records and sex offender registry review, and others.  Each is unique and should be explained to the applicant. Creating a comfortable environment goes a long way in creating a comfortable landlord-tenant relationship.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company that provides tenant checks to landlords and property managers for all sizes and types of rental complexes, including self-storage.  From the single-unit to the large community, TenantScreeningUSA.com has the ability to customize a tenant screening package specific to a managers unique requirements.

Notes:

(1)    huffingtonpost.com/entry/harvey-landlords-rent-flooded-properties_us_59ae18a5e4b0354e440bfa95

Tenants Face Discrimination in Renting; Cities Fight Back; A Continuing Evolution in Tenant Screening, States TenantScreeningUSA.com

Tenants face discrimination due to criminal pasts and/or Section 8 housing vouchers.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states: “Seattle and Berkeley are two example cities fighting back against growing discrimination in housing and points to an immediate need for landlords and property manager’s work with third-party tenant screening agencies in order to maintain compliance with existing and potential changes in law.”

Discrimination is a challenge faced by people with recent criminal pasts as well as those that require Section 8 housing. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states: “Two cities, Berkeley and Seattle, are looking to enact legislation to alleviate discrimination in housing and these actions point to an urgent need for landlords to work with well-qualified third-party tenant screening agencies in order to remain compliant with existing and potential change in law.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is working with a task force to create a bill to prohibit landlords from automatically rejecting individuals with criminal histories.

From SeattleWeekly.com (Aug. 03, 17):

Sponsored by Mayor Ed Murray and the product of one of his ubiquitous task forces, the Fair Chance Housing bill would prohibit landlords from automatically rejecting anyone with a criminal record in advertisements. Also, when screening applications, landlords could only look at convictions on an applicant’s record in the past two years. The bill follows the trajectory set by a 2013 ordinance which similarly prohibits discrimination against former prisoners applying for employment. (1)

The Seattle bill has lofty goals but should remind landlords and property managers to work with a third-party tenant screening agency in order to remain fully compliant with existing and potential changes in law.

Almeida states: “Just as in the employment sector changes are coming fast and furious to the tenant screening arena. Best practice remains working with a tenant screening agency in order to remain in compliance with law.”

Berkeley is attempting to reduce discrimination in housing regarding Section Eight renters.

From the Mercury News (mercurynews.com; Aug 03, 17):

…the city council took preliminary action to prohibit landlords and rental agents from refusing to rent to someone based on their source of income. Elected officials and tenant rights advocates said their goal was to help more people on a federal subsidy program for low income and disabled people to find housing. If the ordinance is approved on a final vote Sept. 12th, Berkeley would become the first East Bay city to pass such a law. (2)

Creating a fully-comprehensive tenant screening protocol is a critical challenge to landlords, but actions in Seattle and Berkeley point to the rapid change in law.

Almeida adds: “Changes in law could also carry potential financial penalty.”

From the Mercury News (mercurynews.com; Aug 03, 17):

Under the law, landlords could not refuse to rent to a person solely because they are on housing assistance or give preference to someone whose entire income is earned from a job as opposed to receiving a government subsidy. Violating the ordinance carries a potential fine of up to $1,000 and or jail time for up to six months. A tenant is also entitled to receive up to $400 in damages in addition to fees charged by attorneys. (3)

Almeida concludes: “Working with a third-party tenant screening agency is key to a landlord’s success is staying compliant with existing law and ahead of potential change in law, and the risk of penalty.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company with highly trained investigators well versed in the legal and lawful use of criminal history reports, and all public record reports, as part of a tenant check.
Notes:

(1) seattleweekly.com/news/should-landlords-be-allowed-to-discriminate-against-former-prisoners/
(2) mercurynews.com/2017/07/31/berkeley-makes-move-to-ban-discrimination-against-low-income-renters/
(3) ibid…

 

College Student Renters, Subletting, and the Happy Landlord

As memories of an eventful 4th of July weekend begin to fade thoughts of freshman year begin to percolate in the minds of many anxious students.  Finalizing financial aid, finding the right classes, enrolling in the right classes; the process of going to college full-time can be overwhelming.

Many students will have the luxury of living at home, commuting to school, and maintaining the semblance of a balanced life, but for some going to college represents leaving home and living far from the comforts of mom and dad’s pocket book.

The prospect of renting to college students for landlords and property managers is increasingly bright.  And, in some cases, purchasing a home near a college may prove to be a bigger bargain for parents than paying rent.

From Zillow (Sep. 04, 14)

With the combination of high rates of affordability and rapidly rising rents, parents with kids just starting out in college may want to consider purchasing a property for the remainder of their 4-year stay rather than paying rent.

Zillow data shows that the demand for off-campus rental housing is rising, creating a large spike in rental prices that show no sign of slowing down. On the other hand, home values are still below their peak levels and mortgage rates remain low, making for great bargains for buyers who plan to own their home for at least three years. (1)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “Whether an incoming freshman lives at an existing property or one that is purchased, there may be the additional opportunity of sub-letting.  Other friends or classmates can fill the empty rooms and potentially provide additional income.”

Regardless if a property is a single family dwelling or an apartment complex a sublet makes sense for a number of reasons.

From Rent.Uloop.com (Jul. 01, 17):

Allowing subletting will make your building more attractive for students. Knowing that they have the option to find someone to pay for the room when they are not there is a definite incentive to choose one building over another, and they will be more willing to keep their lease if they know they can get other people to contribute. Yet for you as the property owner, you now take the risk of allowing a student to be an intermediate between you and the subtenants. (2)

Almeida states: “Having a sublet of a property can provide continued occupancy, reduced maintenance costs, and ensured income.  But the key to a successful sublet is the same as any rental situation.  Every sublet renter must go through a thorough vetting process and tenant background check, as well as sign a well-written rental agreement, one that meters out the exact demands and requirements of property management.”

Ultimately a thorough tenant check will serve as a best practice for both primary renter and sub renter.  The same policy holds true for a home purchased in lieu of renting and extra rooms are rented out.  As long as the communication between renter and landlord remains open, the policies and requirements understood, and all promises fulfilled, the landlord/renter relationship should be very positive.

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company that provides tenant checks to landlords and property managers for rental communities ranging from single units to large complexes, as well as single family dwellings.

Notes:

(1) zillow.com/blog/college-towns-breakeven-2014-159125/

(2) rent.uloop.com/news/view.php/241475/Make-Subletting-a-Breeze-for-Your-Residents-Dos-and-Donts

 

 

Vacation Rental Background Screening, Don’t Miss the Boat

As the days get longer, the nights get shorter, and kids are out of school and thoughts of the summer vacation arise and important decisions will be made.  Where to go?  What to do? How long should a family get away?

In many parts of the United States families take long-term vacations.  In order to save money these families may turn to vacation rental properties.

Long-term vacation rentals offer a great many amenities that a standard hotel may not: A kitchen to prepare meals in, larger living space to spread out, and more bedrooms for the bigger families or those that invite friends along for the getaway.  The affordability of a long-term vacation rental often outweighs daily maid service, an on-site pool, or room service.

Every year owners of vacation rental properties work tirelessly to attract long-term vacationers.  The profit of a fully booked summer can pay an entire year’s property mortgage or, if the property is wholly owned, create significant profit.

But landlords and property managers must take the same care with long-term vacation rentals as they might with a traditional rental situation.  Thorough tenant checks should be standard.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “It is important for a landlord to treat any landlord-tenant relationship in a similar manner.  Even though a rental relationship that lasts only a month or two, and may be paid in full in advance, one should take care to protect property.”

A tenant background check offers three types of protections:  Person, Property, and Perception.

Person:  This protection is for neighbors or other tenants of a property.  Running a criminal history and sexual predator registry can afford a degree of security.

Property:  Perhaps the most important protection for a vacation rental, protecting property from loss could be critical to a single unit landlord.  Understanding the financial status of a rental could go a long way in protecting property, but a thorough tenant check, one that utilizes public records as well as a complete vetting interview provides a barrier to individuals with nefarious intent.

Perception:  Not as important, perhaps, with vacation rentals, but protecting the perception of a given property goes a long way in ensuring the desirability of a property.  No one wants to rent a property that has a history of police calls and related challenges.

Almeida adds:  “The correct and proper use of public records combined with a thorough tenant vetting interview goes a long way in protecting a property.”

A long-term vacation tenant check may include:

  • Consumer Credit Report – Verify financial capability to fulfill a tenant agreement
  • Eviction Records – Verify any previous challenges a tenant may have had in a rental agreement
  • Criminal History – Provide greater protection for neighbors and other tenants
  • Sexual Predator Registry – Additional surety for neighbors and other tenants

Almeida states:  “Often time’s individuals with ill intent are stopped cold if they know a landlord conducts a thorough vetting process of all tenants.  A tenant screening that utilizes public records and verification.”

In the end a best practice for landlords of long-term vacation rentals is to conduct a thorough tenant check in order to provide protection to their financial investment.

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company available to provide all the data and information a property manager requires in making a sound decision on a potential tenant, both traditional and vacation.  With a well-trained and highly dedicated staff, TenantScreeningUSA.com can compile data required to make a well-informed decision.

Recent Survey Show Rental Markets Remain Attractive for Landlords

Rental markets have always been boom or bust, and recent years have been nothing but boom, especially in large urban centers such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle.  As the rental markets continue to heat up landlords are enjoying greater success.
From REBusinessonline.com (May 02, 17):

Six in 10 apartment landlords say it is more profitable and attractive to be a landlord than it was five years ago, according to a new survey from TransUnion SmartMove, a tenant screening service for owners. The survey was conducted in March 2017 and included responses from 689 landlords across the country.

At the close of the first quarter of 2017, property owners indicated it was easier to find qualified renters and that resident turnover had declined compared with the same time last year. (1)

And the key is qualified renters.

What is a qualified renter?  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com explains:  “A qualified renter is one that can afford a property, shows the wherewithal to pay rent on time, and has had a successful rental career.  No late payments, no evictions, no apartment jumping.  A qualified candidate can also be that renter that has a clear record, great references and positive referrals.”

Turning a qualified candidate into a long-term renter can be profitable for landlords, but the very reason qualified renters are paying higher rent is the same reason they may not be long term.

Almeida explains:  “Increasingly the younger generation is more transient.  They tend to move around more and not spend money on a big investment such as a house or a car.  This would explain the increasing popularity of living in an urban city, close to work and entertainment and not restrictive on movement due to requiring a car.”

However, the near term remains bright for landlords.

Almeida adds: “A thorough tenant background check is critical to find the qualified candidate for a rental property.  Landlords and property managers should review credit history, criminal background records, and, especially, eviction reports.”

Credit history is important to verify a candidate’s ability to fulfill the rental obligation.  Certainly a consumer credit report will provide the data a landlord needs to make a well informed decision, just as criminal records and eviction reports will further enhance the process.

Almeida adds:  “It should be noted that some segments of the rental community now ban the question of criminal records as part of the application process.”

In 2016 the Department of Housing and Urban Development as supported by the Fair Housing Act initiated certain bans of criminal history in public housing.

Almeida adds: “Ultimately the search of the qualified candidate is critical to the long-term health and fiscal viability of a property and one that must be conducted in a fair, legal, and lawful manner.  Property managers and landlords must work with well-qualified third-party tenant screening companies in order to remain fully compliant with all applicable law.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company with highly trained investigators well versed in the legal and lawful use of criminal history reports, and all public record reports, as part of a tenant check.

Notes:

(1)   rebusinessonline.com/low-turnover-higher-rental-prices-lead-to-attractive-apartment-market-for-landlords/

Tenants with Criminal Records; A Continuing Evolution

In recent years a wide variety of laws have been enacted to protect individuals from potential disparate impact.  Ban-the-Box laws have eliminated the use of the question of past criminal history on the employment application and when a criminal background check can be conducted.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “The FHA is a legal act that protects individuals from discrimination in housing and HUD is tasked with protection.  Recently, HUD released updated guidelines on how to protect against disparate impact in housing during the application process.”

From the Village News, (Mar. 31, 17):

Disparate impact theory is when the housing provider has a facially neutral policy and applies it uniformly, but it impacts a group in one of the protected classes disproportionately than the other groups. Using the same policy as above, a housing provider may have a blanket policy of not allowing people who have been convicted of a felony and applies it uniformly to everyone who applies for housing. On its face, this does not seem like discrimination because the housing provider applies it to everyone and people who have been convicted of a felony are not a listed protected class in the Fair Housing Act. However, it could be discrimination under the disparate impact theory. (1)

Ultimately a landlord or property manager must utilize any and all policies for allowing an individual opportunity to rent in a fair, equal, and uniform manner.  To treat one individual differently from an existing policy would be disparate impact.  This could open up a landlord to legal action.

Disparate impact has been proven time and again, and a recent test by the Equal Rights Center has shown its impact.

Conducted by Kate Scott and staff of the ERC findings provided profound results:

From howhousingmatters.org (Mar. 30, 17):

  •  Housing providers exhibited more favorable treatment for the white female tester than the black female tester in 47 percent of the tests conducted.
  •  The black tester was only favored in 11 percent of the tests, while 42 percent of tests revealed no differential treatment.
  •  Twenty-eight percent of the screening policies for criminal records used by local housing providers may illegally cause a disparate impact based on race.
  •  Local housing providers should evaluate, revise, and increase the transparency of their criminal-record screening processes. (2)

Almeida states:  “A well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency should be able to assist any and all landlords and property managers in the creation and maintenance of a fully compliant tenant screening policy, one that can gather all the pertinent information required to make a well informed decision on a potential tenant.”

A tenant check can provide a landlord or property manager with the verification of information provided by an applicant.  This information includes:

·       Consumer Credit Reports

·       Eviction Information

·       Sex Offender Data

·       And Criminal History

 

Almeida states:  “Ultimately Criminal Records should remain a part of the tenant screening process but there are strict laws governing when a criminal record report can be pulled as well as for what purpose.  A solid tenant screening policy should include the exact reason information is pulled and how information is pulled in a uniform manner for all applicants.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company available to provide all the data and information a property manager requires in making a sound decision on a potential tenant.  With a well-trained and highly dedicated staff, TenantScreeningUSA.com can conduct and compile all background information necessary in the tenant vetting process.

Notes:

(1)    villagenews.com/realestate/impact-excluding-tenants-prior-convictions/

(2)    howhousingmatters.org/articles/racial-discrimination-can-yield-differential-treatment-among-potential-renters-criminal-records/

 

Evictions and Law: Challenges in Tenant Screening

Eviction records are a key tool that landlords and property managers utilize to vet potential tenants, but laws governing the use of these records and the reporting of evictions continue to evolve and change.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “It is critical that landlords utilize a well-qualified third-party tenant screening company in order to stay current and compliant with all laws governing the use of public records during the course of the tenant screening process.”

One of the most important tools in tenant screening is the eviction report, a document that allows the landlord or property manager to create a picture of a potential tenants past responsibility toward a lawful contract over tenancy. “While eviction is a relatively simple concept,” Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states, “the lawful reasons for eviction can be relatively complex.”

Across the country the laws governing the fair, legal, and lawful use of evictions continue to change and evolve.  Simply put, eviction is the process of removing a tenant or tenants due to the failure to abide, conform, and/or fulfill a contract in which they have committed.  This could involve failure to pay rent, willing destruction of property, or illegal activities.

A bill currently making its way through the Missouri legislature is further defining what is lawful in regards to housing as related to victims of domestic violence.

From MissouriNet.com (Feb. 28, 17):

Missouri lawmakers are looking at a measure to allow housing renters to terminate their leases and change locks because of domestic violence.

It would further prohibit a landlord from terminating a lease or refusing to rent to someone who is the victim of such violence. (1)

Essentially the law allows for the protection of the victimized to maintain tenancy and not have any cessation of lease be reported to subsequent landlords.

From MissouriNet.com (Feb. 28, 17):

The measure would apply to a tenant or any household member who’s been harassed, stalked, abused or assaulted.  It would also prohibit rental screening services from disclosing a tenant’s status as a domestic violence victim, or reveal whether such a person has terminated a lease. (2)

But not every area of the country has housing laws that protect the rentals in a way such as the potential Missouri bill.  In Milwaukee some evictions took place due to legal action against the landlord which created confusion as to whom to pay the rent.  When the landlords legal status changes some tenants were allegedly evicted through illegal means.  Notices of eviction were placed against some individuals.

From JSOnline.com (Feb. 26, 17):

Landlords, judges, tenant advocates and academics agree that people are followed by their evictions. (3)

Almeida states:  “Evictions can plague tenants for several years, unless they petition the court for removal.  Unfortunately, in some areas, tenants are not adequately protected and wrongful, and often illegal, evictions can create extensive problems for their future rental efforts.”

“In the end,” Almeida states, “a best practice for landlords is to work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening company to stay ahead of laws governing tenant screening practices and one that understands the nuance of legal and lawful eviction.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company with highly trained investigators well versed in the legal and lawful use of criminal history reports, and all public record reports, as part of a tenant background check.

Notes:

(1)    www.missourinet.com/2017/02/28/bill-in-mo-legislature-would-let-domestic-violence-victims-terminate-housing-leases/

(2)    missourinet.com/2017/02/28/

(3)     jsonline.com/story/news/investigations/2017/02/24/tenants-caught-legal-tangle-get-evicted/98058536/

Could British Immigration Style Tenant Checks Come to the United States?

Continuing angst over legal and illegal immigration has grown to a fevered pitch in the United States and shows no sign of abating in the coming weeks and months.  In a somewhat related issue Britain responded to illegal immigration challenges via a new policy called “Right to Rent.”

From The Belfast Telegraph (Feb 13, 17):

Right to Rent was rolled out across England last year, requires landlords to establish that tenants have a right to be in the country by taking copies of documents such as passports or identity cards. (1)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “Immigration is a major hot button issue in America as it has been in Britain.  The move to force landlords to check for legal right to be in the country has caused considerable challenge and concern in the UK.”

The Belfast Telegraph conducted research on the new policy and determined that it does, in fact, create significant challenges to landlords.

From the Belfast Telegraph (Feb. 13, 17):

The paper concluded: “The Right to Rent scheme conscripts ordinary members of civil society into the immigration enforcement arm of the Government, and does so in such a crude and ham-fisted fashion that it creates structural incentives for them to discriminate unlawfully against foreigners and ethnic minorities.” (2)

Other papers in the UK have taken note of the challenges with Right to Rent and statistics appear to point toward potential discrimination.

From MorningStarOnline (Jan 23, 17):

Statistics from research into the pilot scheme showed that 42 per cent of landlords admitted they are less likely to consider renting to someone who does not have a British passport, regardless of their actual migration status.

Moreover, a further 25 per cent stated that they would be less likely to open discussions with someone who “had a name which doesn’t sound British” or “had a foreign accent” and 65 per cent of landlords stated that they would be less likely to rent to someone who needs time to provide documentation. (3)

With the dramatic changes that have occurred with the new administration in Washington DC, specifically in its direction toward immigration, it is not impossible that a sudden and dramatic shift in tenant screening, similar to Right to Rent, could occur in the States.

California may be the first state to proactively introduce legislation to prevent an American Right to Rent law.

From CBS Sacramento (Feb 03, 17):

Assemblyman David Chiu’s said … he’s introduced a bill that would prohibit landlords from disclosing information related to tenants’ immigration status. AB291 would also bar them from threatening to report tenants to immigration authorities.

The San Francisco Democrat says his bill would eliminate one method President Donald Trump’s administration could use to deport immigrants.  (4)

Almeida states:  “Ultimately a best practice for tenants and landlords is to work with a well-qualified tenant screening agency in order to stay ahead of any potential legislation effecting tenant background checks.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening agency well versed in all aspects of tenant checks and can provide tenant screening packages for properties large and small.

Notes:

(1)   belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/immigration-checks-on-tenants-fuelling-discrimination-report-warns-35445645.html

(2)   ibid

(3)   morningstaronline.co.uk/a-73f6-The-governments-racist-housing-policy#.WKECEdIrLIU

(4)   sacramento.cbslocal.com/2017/02/03/california-lawmaker-proposes-immigrant-tenant-protections/

Time to Review Tenant Screening Policies in the New Year

With the arrival of 2017 January is a great time to review tenant screening policies.  Regardless of property size, large or small, a best practice is to ensure all policies are up-to-date and current with laws and regulations governing tenant screening and the subsequent use of public records.

Tenant Screening laws, regulation, and policy frequently change and alter the legal landscape for landlords and property managers.  In April of 2016 HUD released a new guidance on tenant screening practices that caused considerable concern for landlords and property managers.

From the website of the San Francisco Chronicle (SFChronicle.com; Apr. 08. 16):

Landlords who have a blanket ban on renting to people with criminal background records could be charged with violating the federal Fair Housing Act, under guidance issued last week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

However, a landlord who fails to screen prospective tenants for criminal records and rents to one who robs or hurts a neighbor could be sued by the victim.

That is the dilemma landlords now find themselves in as a result of HUD’s new guidance, which provides few specifics on how to comply. (1)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “HUDs policy changes have caused and will continue to create considerable confusion for property managers and landlords.  Subsequently, a best-practice, in order to maintain full compliance, is to work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening company.”

Tenant screening is a critical tool utilized by property managers in selecting a potentially long-term tenant.  Some might suggest that long-term tenants are increasingly infrequent as the population of the United States becomes more transient.  Tenant screening remains critical.

Almeida states:  “Tenant screening can also assist in the prevention of property loss or damage as well as harm to current residents.  The information found in tenant background checks, combined with a thorough interview, will serve a landlord well.”

Another change landlords and property managers should be prepared for is with the ascendancy of Donald Trump to President and the potentially radical change that could occur.  Trump’s selection of Ben Carson as Secretary of HUD could bring around significant change as his views appear to be dramatically different that those of the current administration.

From the website of the New York Times (NYTimes.com; Dec. 05, 16):

In an opinion article in 2015 for The Washington Times, Mr. Carson compared an Obama administration housing regulation to “the failure of school busing” because it would place affordable housing “primarily in wealthier neighborhoods with few current minority residents.”

The rule, known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, was years in the making and designed to end decades-old segregation by offering affluent areas incentives to build affordable housing. Critics, including Mr. Carson, called it government overreach. (2)

Almeida states:  “All tenant screening policies should be reviewed based on recent changes by HUD as well as the potential of change with a new administration.  Having a third-party tenant company screening involved allows landlords and property managers to remain well informed and compliant with all existing and potential legislative changes.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party background screening company that provides tenant checks to landlords and property managers for all sizes and types of rental complexes.  From the single-unit to the large community, TenantScreeningUSA.com has the ability to customize a tenant screening package specific to a managers unique requirements.

Notes:

(1)   sfchronicle.com/business/networth/article/New-HUD-guidance-on-criminal-records-puts-7237897.php

(2)   nytimes.com/2016/12/05/us/politics/ben-carson-housing-urban-development-trump.html