Unlawful Detainers: At the Center of Landlord/Property Manager Challenges

“There are a number of terms within the rental and tenant screening world that can sometimes be confusing and unlawful detainer is one such term,” states Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com.  Often used interchangeably with evictions, unlawful detainers are specifically: “The act of retaining possession of property without legal right.”(1)

One of the great challenges a landlord and/or property manager faces is dealing with the legal aspect of renting.  From the application process and tenant screening through the potential of eviction, the process of renting property can be enormously complex, especially for new landlords.

During the application process landlords and/or property managers go through several steps in the process of selecting a new tenant.  First and foremost is the application.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “Rental applications should be very clear and very uniform among potential renters.  Special care should be taken in regards to specific questions asked on applications.  Recently the Department of Housing and Urban Development put out a guidance regarding the legal and lawful use of Criminal Records during the application process.”

There are a wide variety of public and private records and information points that can be gathered and utilized to verify information collected on a rental application.

One piece of information that is front and center during the vetting process is eviction.  Eviction reports can show information on tenants that were legally removed from a rental property.

It is important to note that many landlords/property managers use the term Unlawful Detainer interchangeably with Evictions.  For the new landlord this can be confusing.

Unlawful Detainer, in regards to tenant screening, can be defined as:

“The term unlawful detainer ordinarily refers to the conduct of a tenant who is in possession of an apartment or leased property and refuses to leave the premises upon the expiration or termination of the lease.” (2)

In short Unlawful Detainer is a legal action landlords use to evict a tenant.

Almeida adds:  “Bare in mind that Unlawful Detainer action in the courts can be complicated and confusing for newer landlords.  The eviction process as a whole is time consuming and expensive.  A best practice is to utilize a third-party tenant screening company in order to prevent the potential of eviction.”

As a tool for landlords Unlawful Detainer can be effective.

From the California Department of Consumer Affairs webpage (dca.ca.gov):

Recent laws designed to abate drug dealing and unlawful use, manufacture, or possession of weapons and ammunition, permit a city attorney or prosecutor in selected jurisdictions to file an unlawful detainer action against a tenant based on an arrest report (or other action or report by law enforcement or regulatory agencies) if the landlord fails to evict the tenant after 30 days’ notice from the city. The tenant must be notified of the nature of the action and possible defenses. (3)

Almeida states:  “In the end a best practice for landlords and property managers is to do the homework upfront.  Conduct the application, review the data, confirm through a tenant background check utilizing a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency.”

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 perform criminal background checks, eviction record checks and professional reference verifications.

Notes:

(1)   legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Unlawful+Detainer

(2)   legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Unlawful+Detainer

(3)   dca.ca.gov

Evolving Trends in New Student Housing Still Include Tenant Screening; States TenantScreeningUSA.com

Increasingly college housing has become upscale and a recent student housing project at Arizona State points to emerging trends to fit the needs and requirements of incoming and existing college students.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “College housing can be an important part of the college experience and whether it is a new project or an existing home or apartment, tenant screening will always remain a key part in vetting college students looking to rent.”

As thousands of students start or return to the college environment many will be moving into student housing.  Over the years student housing has evolved from a simple dormitory or off-campus apartment to luxurious high scale housing projects.  Regardless the type of facility tenant screening should always be an integral part of the student rental applicant vetting process.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “The importance of vetting a first time renter, in this conversation a college student, is no different than vetting an older, experienced renter.  Risk mitigation is the key factor in tenant background screening and there is no better environment than college housing that should be risk adverse.”

A recent project at Arizona State has highlighted the changing trends in student housing:

From Urbanland.uli.org (Aug. 01, 16):

The market has been indicating a strong preference for pedestrian-oriented student housing close to campus, with amenities and conveniences and perhaps some mixed retail on site. However, well-located property costs have risen, municipal permits and approvals have a longer gestation period now, and the cost of construction has soared. This has thinned developers’ profit margins and forced rents higher than in years past. To combat these challenges, a lot of developers are constructing some of their own buildings—becoming a general contractor to take out the extra layer of fees that would be involved with a third party. And these factors have forced the square footage of the units to be smaller than in years past, to save costs. (1)

Almeida states:  “Changing cost models may force cuts in spending in other areas, such as tenant screening.  However this would be a mistake.  For a relatively low cost, a tenant background check can greatly assist a landlord or property manager in making a well-informed decision about a potential tenant.”

Ultimately student housing remains a big business.  As noted by the Arizona State project, student housing projects are on the rise and big business for the private sector.

From Bloomberg.com (Aug. 01, 16):

The long-term theme is that college enrollment has boomed over the past few decades, and investment in new on-campus dorms hasn’t come close to keeping up. In the short term, the shares are likely rising because investors are looking to hedge against the possibility of a U.S. recession.

“In an environment of striking political and economic uncertainty, public investors are ascribing value to [the] certainty of cash flows in student housing,” said Ryan Burke, an analyst at Green Street Advisors. “In [the] young life of purpose-built student housing, it’s performed really well in good and bad times.” (2)

Almeida adds:  “Student housing continues to be a big business and will continue to grow as enrollment expands.  As the values of these properties and, subsequently, the rent rates increase it is critical for landlords and property managers to work with a well qualified tenant screening company for all tenant checks. To protect property and person and mitigate risk.”

A third-party tenant screening company can provide easy access to a wide variety of public records and verifiable references.  With a young renter without a significant credit history a reference verification may be the most important piece of information for a property manager.

Almeida concludes:  “Get the credit report, conduct the tenant check, and let a third-party verify all references.  They have the systems and processes available to be able to fulfill all the requirements of a landlord or property manager quickly, efficiently, and in a cost effective manner.”

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 reference verification.  Save money and time by working with TenantScreeningUSA.com.

Notes

  1.   urbanland.uli.org/industry-sectors/residential/outlook-student-housing/
  2.   bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-01/these-landlords-are-making-a-killing-on-college-students

 

 

 

Recent Thefts at Self-Storage Units Highlight Need to “Think Outside the Box” With Background Screening

There are numerous and very obvious areas where background screening is an important tool.  Pre-employment screening may be first on the list of obvious choices.  A significant number of businesses and organizations do background screening, at least minimally, as background checks have proven to provide critical and important information that greatly assists hiring managers.  But there are numerous other areas where background screening may prove useful.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com states:  “Ultimately a background check, whether it is for employment related services or in other areas, is about mitigating risk.”

Mitigating risk falls into a couple different categories.

  •      Protection of person –
  •      Protection of property –

When one thinks about the protection of person the best example may be tenant screening.  A landlord or property manager’s primary responsibility is to protect tenants and protection comes in many forms.  Locking gates, secure entry and exit, well maintained landscapes and tenant screening.

Protection of property may be illustrated in pre-employment screening.  It would be simple to think of pre-employment background checks as a tool used only to protect current employees from potential threat from new employees but this aspect is just a part of the story.  Pre-employment background checks protect property as well, specifically considering theft or damage of property.  Through the collection and dissemination of critical information gathered from public records and verifications a hiring manager will have a heightened ability to make an informed decision about hiring a given individual.

But one area background screening may not seem readily present is with the rental of self-storage units.

From insideselfstorage.com (no date given):

In fact, the easiest way to get around your security is to become a tenant. This may be shocking, but if you think about it, it’s quite brilliant. A thief who’s a tenant has easy access to units and can literally walk right past you without causing a doubt in your mind. You might have a break-in every month, increase security accordingly, and never know the burglar was right under your nose the whole time.

What’s even worse is these crimes won’t just cost you time and money; they’ll cost you customers and your company’s reputation as well. (1)

Almeida states:  “It is important to understand that background checks, regardless of who or why, must always remain compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  A third-party background screening or tenant screening company would be a best practice for Self-Storage facilities.”

From insideselfstorage.com:

The best thing you can do is initiate strict tenant-screening practices that include background, credit and rental-history checks. (2)

Tenant screening is a relatively simple process that draws information from public records as well as verifications collected through phone conversations.  Certainly not all reports would apply.

Sample reports might include:

  • Consumer Credit Report – Validate financial wherewithal.
  • Eviction Record – This report shows traditional evictions from rental properties but could expose a pattern of behavior that could be of concern to the self-storage landlord.
  • Personal References – Verification.
  • Criminal History

Almeida states:  “The use of criminal history in many instances has come into question and further illustrates the need for self-storage landlords to work with third-party tenant screening companies.”
When it comes to mitigating risk the use of a background check is an important and, often, critical tool utilized by a wide variety of companies and organizations.  Managers of self-storage units may want to use a tenant-check to further protect existing and new clients.

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. insideselfstorage.com/articles/2016/06/screening-your-selfstorage-tenants-preventing-internal-threats-to-your-business.aspx
  2. insideselfstorage.com/articles/2016/06/screening-your-selfstorage-tenants-preventing-internal-threats-to-your-business.aspx

 

A Hot Vacation Rental Market and Tenant Screening Go Hand-In-Hand

The key to tenant screening is risk mitigation.  Risk may involve person or property.  Long-term renters are screened for financial worthiness as well as reliability.  A landlord or property manager may require a credit check, eviction records and, where legal, criminal history.  Often, personal and professional references are a part of the tenant screening process.

In the shorter term, that is a week to a month plus rental range, a tenant background check should be equally robust.  Just as with long-term renters the key is risk.  And with a hot vacation rental market a tenant check can assist a property manager or landlord in acquiring a solid tenant.

A number of short term vacation rentals come in the form of second homes.  Instead of selling a home in order to buy a new home in a different part of town or a smaller home people may consider keeping a home to rent out, especially if the property is in a highly desirable location.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “While not everyone can own a second home in Hawaii or Malibu there are numerous locations across the country, especially along the shore that make excellent rental opportunities.”

From the Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com; Mar. 17, 16):

The robust monthly market has encouraged landlords who used to rent long term to concentrate on short-term rentals. (1)

But the decision to rent out a property as a short term rental should not be taken lightly.  There are many steps and challenges involved with renting a home or property.

Key among the steps toward being a landlord is a tenant check but even this task can provide challenges.

Almeida states:  “Understanding that risk mitigation is key to a successful rental relationship, landlords should screen a potential tenant for a short-term rent just as they would for a longer, open ended relationship.  Understanding past behavior will inform future behavior.”

Many rental market publications indicate the need to screen tenants for short term rentals as one of the critical steps.

From realestate.usnews.com (Feb. 24, 16)

It’s important to screen tenants, collect a damage deposit and have a strong rental agreement in place, as well as the proper insurance, to protect your home from damage.  (2)

A tenant check for a short term rental could include the following reports and data points:

1.      Credit Check – Financial wherewithal is key, certainly.  Many rental arrangements demand half of the rental payment up front, a deposit, and the remainder on departure.  For highly popular and up-scale rentals a landlord may want to know the backend payment will be forthcoming.

2.      Evictions – Given the rental is a short-term stay evictions may not seem to be an important report.  However, an evictions report could inform a landlord to past behavior of the renter thus the potential risk to property.

3.      References – Whether it is a long term arrangement or short term references can greatly assist a landlord in making a smart decision about a potential tenant.

Almeida states:  “Ultimately a landlord of a short term vacation rental should work with a well qualified third-party background screening company in order to remain fully compliant with law as well as to provide information in a simple, low-cost manner.  A third-party tenant screening company has the tools and ability to provide information in a quick, efficient manner.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party background screening company that provides tenants 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)    wsj.com/articles/malibus-summer-rental-market-booms-1458223281

(2)    realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/what-to-know-before-renting-out-your-vacation-home/

In Light of Recent Guidance from HUD, Sex Offender Registry Checks Presumed to Remain Lawful?

In April 2016 the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a new “guidance” governing the use of criminal history reports as part of a tenant background check.  Essentially, criminal background records should be severely limited in use due to the potential of discrimination against various protected classes.

From WestfairOnline.com (Apr. 14, 16):

The HUD Office of General Counsel (OGC) finds that because African-Americans are arrested and convicted in higher numbers compared to the general population, they suffer a disparate impact when landlords disqualify tenants solely on the basis of arrests or felony convictions. (1)

In certain cases, specifically in the public housing area, exceptions remain regarding the use of criminal history.

From Lexology.com (Apr. 29, 16):

HUD’s regulations require a criminal background check of applicants for federally-assisted public housing and reject those having a household member who is currently using illegal drugs, has been previously evicted from federally-assisted public housing for drug-related criminal activity in the past three years, or is a registered sex offender. State and federal regulations also list other prior criminal activity that may, but is not required to, be disqualifying. (2)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “Access to sex offender registry for purposes of tenant screening in the private sector is not well defined, at least in regards to the new guidance. As it is a very important record and approved for public housing screening the potential for the lawful use of sex offender reports appears high for private sector tenant screening.”

The question of utilizing a sex offender registry is important.  Technically, a sex offender registry is a report of criminal records, which is prohibited by the HUD guidance.  However, without specific inclusion it may be presumed lawful.  The vagueness of this detail highlights the need for a third-party tenant screening company to conduct tenant checks.

Almeida states:  “A third-party tenant screening company will remain up-to-date in all laws governing the use of criminal records and histories as part of a tenant check, including sex offender registry records.”

From Washington Multi-Family Housing Association (www.wmfha.org; Apr. 14, 16):

Unfortunately, the HUD Guidance does not mention sex offenders or persons with convictions for terrorism.  We can only assume that this was an oversight and that landlords can still reject persons with sex offenses who are required to register as sex offenders under state law.  (3)

The span and scope of the new HUD guidance has not gone without criticism, especially in regards to clarity over the lawful use of sex offender registry.

From an Op-Ed on GrantCountyBeat.com (Apr. 15, 16):

There is only one specific exception to the rule; those convicted of manufacturing or distributing illegal drugs. Why not sex offenders too? So if I decide that someone with a history of burglary or assault, maybe 2 or 3 convictions, is not eligible, because I want to protect my property and/or the neighbors, I now have to consider whether or not I’ll be accused of unfair discrimination and could potentially lose my property because I don’t have the cash to pay the fine. (4)

Almeida states:  “Ultimately working with a third-party tenant screening company is a best practice.  A tenant screening company will have the knowledge and understanding of all laws and regulations, and guidance, governing the fair, legal, and lawful use of public records, including sex offender registry records.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company with highly trained and skilled operators working within the rules and regulations of tenant screening as defined by HUD and the Fair Housing Act.  With the ability to access information from databases and county courthouses, TenantScreeningUSA.com can provide the information required for landlords and tenants of properties large and small.

Notes:

  1.  westfaironline.com/78758/column-hud-protects-a-criminals-right-to-housing
  2.  lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=b3336cb2-3efe-4bb2-b5f1-84c9026cd532
  3.  wmfha.org/news/284524/New-HUD-Guidance-on-Criminal-Background-Screening-and-Fair-Housing.htm
  4. grantcountybeat.com/columns/undeniably-right/28518-new-hud-rule-will-hurt-landlords-and-tenants

 

New HUD Guidance to Have Broad Affect on Housing Market, Including LGBTQ Community, States TenantScreeningUSA.com

Recently the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a new guidance regarding the fair and lawful use of Criminal Records as part of the vetting process for new tenants.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com, a well known and widely respected third-party tenant screening company, states:  “With the new guidance from HUD, private property landlords and property managers must pay close attention to their tenant screening policies, and must insure the fair and lawful use of criminal records so as to not illegally preclude housing to individuals of a protected class, such as the LGBTQ community.”

With the release of new guidance by the Department of Housing and Urban Development the legal and lawful manner in which criminal background records are used as part of the tenant vetting process have been fundamentally changed.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “Essentially HUD has stated that housing cannot be denied to individuals with a criminal history.”

From DallasVoice.com (Apr. 04, 16):

The Department of Housing and Urban Development today (Monday, April 4) released a new policy that would eliminate housing discrimination against people with a criminal history.

The new policy clarifies that using criminal history to justify a negative housing decision, such as the refusal to rent to or renew a lease for someone, or the refusal to sell to or to give someone a mortgage on a new home, may violate the Fair Housing Act. (1)

HUD is tasking with the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act as well as the elimination of intolerance and discrimination against protected classes.  One such class is the LGBTQ community.

From DallasVoice.com (Apr. 04, 16):

“We know [LGBT people] are disproportionately likely to be involved with the criminal legal system. A lack of stable housing exacerbates challenges for people who may also struggle with getting jobs, physical and mental healthcare, and other supports based on their criminal record. We look forward to seeing how providers change their standards to comply with this clarifying guidance.” (2)

Certainly the availability of affordable housing is a critical issue affecting many of the major cities across the United States, and the ability to find housing while living with a criminal record further compounds the challenge.

From NationalHomeless.org (No date provided):

LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) individuals face a particular set of challenges, both in becoming homeless as well as when they are trying to avoid homelessness. LGBT persons face social stigma, discrimination, and often rejection by their families, which adds to the physical and mental strains/challenges that all homelessness persons must struggle with. (3)

Almeida states:  “These changes by HUD have a broad impact.  Subsequently, it is extremely critical that landlords and property managers of private property rental units work with a third-party tenant screening company in order to remain fully compliant with the law, and regulations.  HUD will increasingly scrutinize rental transactions and policies, and failure to comply could be costly.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company well versed in all laws and regulations governing the use of personal data gathered for tenant background checks.  With a highly trained staff, TenantScreeningUSA.com can develop fully compliant and highly effective screening packages for properties large and small.

Notes:

(1)               dallasvoice.com/national-lgbtq-task-force-praises-hud-guidance-targeting-discrimination-based-criminal-history-10217163.html

(2)               dallasvoice.com/national-lgbtq-task-force-praises-hud-guidance-targeting-discrimination-based-criminal-history-10217163.html

(3)               nationalhomeless.org/issues/lgbt/

 

The Use of Criminal Records in Tenant Screening May be Poised for a Change, States TenantScreeningUSA.com

Recently, actions by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) severely limiting the use of criminal histories as a part of tenant screening in the public housing section points to a potential change in the private sector as well.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “The actions of HUD combined with recent public outcry strongly suggests the use of criminal records as part of tenant screening may be set for a change and the use of a third-party tenant screening company is now increasingly important.”
In late 2015 the Department of Housing and Urban Development released new guidance over the fair and lawful use of criminal records as part of the tenant vetting process in public housing. (1)  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “New guidance rules from HUD regarding the use of criminal records and public housing combined with growing public outcry suggests that laws and regulations governing criminal background records used with tenant screening will be modified; and it is now critical that landlords and property managers work with well qualified third-party tenant screening companies in order to ensure continued compliance.”

In the last several years the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has attempted to limit the use of criminal records as part of the pre-employment vetting process.  Tasked with upholding laws against discrimination of all forms, the EEOC has worked with HUD in order to reduce and eliminate discrimination in housing.

Almeida states:  “Governmental agencies continue to work toward a discrimination-free work and living environment.  They continue to push for greater protections and law in order to work toward this goal.”

Housing has long been an area of concern, especially as related to individuals with criminal records.  Finding housing that will accept someone with a conviction is a significant challenge, especially with women.

From HumanityInAction.org (No date given):

Since 1977 female imprisonment in the United States has ballooned 757 percent. Female incarceration rates are rising faster than any other population. Upon release from prison, in order to successfully reenter their communities, women identify housing as one of their most urgent needs. A safe, decent and affordable home is essential for human survival and dignity.

However, women with criminal records are often denied access to housing, a violation of what many consider a basic human right. An overwhelming majority of women leaving prisons across the country are low-income women of color. Women of color comprise 60 percent of female inmates, and black women are about six times more likely to be incarcerated than white women. (2)

As individuals attempt to reenter the workplace housing will remain a high priority.  Unfortunately, in many instances, the appearance of a criminal record on a housing application may remove that individual from consideration.  Subsequently, many ex-cons reentering society are left with few options.

From an opinion piece on www.BuffaloNews.com (Feb. 20, 16):

Studies show that barriers in housing contribute to criminal recidivism. Therefore, as long as background checks limit housing opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals, we as community members have enormous impact on the success of someone’s release. Access to housing can be the difference between returning to prison or retaining employment, reuniting with family and reintegrating. (3)

Almeida states:  “Just as Ban-the-Box legislation started as a grass roots movement and significantly altered the way criminal records can be used in pre-employment background screening, so too will the use of criminal records as utilized with tenant screening.  It is likely that HUD will begin to use the court system as a means of enforcing the fair and legal use of criminal records in housing and landlords and property managers must be prepared for change.  Working with a third-party tenant screening company is a best practice and now an urgent need.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company well versed in all laws and regulations governing the use of personal data gathered for tenant background checks.  With a highly trained staff, TenantScreeningUSA.com can develop fully compliant and highly effective screening packages for properties large and small.

Notes:

(1)   portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=PIH2015-19.pdf

(2)   humanityinaction.org/knowledgebase/178-the-second-sentence-obstacles-to-public-housing-in-new-york-city-for-women-with-criminal-records

(3)   buffalonews.com/opinion/another-voice/another-voice-time-to-reframe-criminal-background-checks-in-housing-20160220

 

TenantScreeningUSA.com Comments on Recent Legislative Action for Housing Reform in Washington State

Tenant screening is an important tool used by landlords and property managers in vetting potential renters, and a wide variety of public records including sex offender, consumer credit, and eviction reports are often utilized.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com comments:  “Recently the Legislation in Washington State moved to reform housing policy, including a universal background screening form, and this further indicates the continual change in the laws and legislation governing tenant screening.”
Tenant screening is a critical tool in vetting potential tenants used by landlords and property managers.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “In Washington State there is legislative action working toward a universal renter application as well as a move to highly define how evictions and potential evictions are noted.  This action could be a potential first step toward broader changes across the country regarding tenant screening.”

Laws and legislation governing tenant screening and the documents utilized in that process change on a continual basis.  Every year cities, states, and, on occasion, the federal government attempt to further define and stratify the legal use of public records and related data used for a tenant background check.

On a federal level the Department of Housing and Urban Development remains the legal arm regulating tenant screening as it relates to public housing specific and private housing in general.  Recent actions by HUD have eliminated the use of criminal records, sometimes refered to as criminal histories, as a part of the vetting process for public housing.  Actions such as these enacted by HUD often times migrate into the private section.

One need only look at the actions of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and their actions related to the use of criminal histories as part of the pre-employment screening process.  These may be seen as the precursor of actions by HUD.

At the state level Washington State’s legislative body is attempting to affect housing policy in a positive manner.

From CrossCut.com (Feb. 05, 16):

Loosely, the bills focus on three main areas: designating a universal renters’ screening form; setting up tax incentives for affordable housing; and adding an option for cities to use land seized for nonpayment of taxes to build affordable housing units. The background check would potentially save apartment-hunters hundreds of dollars by designating a single, universal background screening form that landlords could choose to accept. The tax credits would let nonprofits and housing developers claim different property tax exemptions when they used property for affordable housing, or included affordable units in developments. (1)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com comments: “The idea of a universal rental form is unique in the Washington State proposal.  By all appearances it is an attempt from a higher governmental level to create a simpler process for the applicant.  For the landlords there may be the opportunity for more applicants.”

Any action by governmental body is one that should be carefully considered and reviewed.

Almeida states:  “Actions by the state also a greater interest in the tenant screening process.  Combined with the federal activities by HUD one gets the sense that change will continue to affect the tenant screening process.  Just as change continues with pre-employment screening change remains inevitability with tenant screening.”

The Washington legislative action is evidence of continued change with tenant screening.

From CrossCut.com (Feb. 05, 16):

In full, the bill defines what the universal screening form would consist of, and requires all landlords to notify prospective tenants of whether they accept it. The bill also includes what had been a separate proposal in previous years: allowing courts to keep reporting agencies from disclosing evictions that were never completed or found to be unsubstantiated or without cause. (2)

Almeida comments:  “The change in reporting evictions may be key to the Washington legislation.  And, one must note, that with continuous change there is a greater need to work with a third-party tenant screening company.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company specializing in tenant checks for small to medium sized properties.  Staffed with highly trained operators, TenantScreeningUSA.com has the ability to create custom screening packages for landlords and property managers.

Notes:

(1)    crosscut.com/2016/02/legislature-may-make-reforms-in-housing-law/

(2)   crosscut.com/2016/02/legislature-may-make-reforms-in-housing-law/

Tenant Screening, CO-OPs, and Housing Sharing in a Hot Housing Market

Tenant screening should be conducting on any renter of a property large or small and as the housing market heats up tenant screening should be expanded to co-ops and house sharing.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “Tenant background checks can be a valuable tool in protecting people and property, and must be conducted on any rental or joint ownership property.”
As the housing market continues to explode in 2016 the ability to find acceptable housing for business professionals has become challenging.  In Northern California roommates are becoming more fashionable.

From PenisulaTimes.com (Dec. 15, 15):

Confronting an acute housing shortage, a disparate group of Bay Area residents, some of whom would easily be able to afford their own apartments in other regions, have found roommates to share the cost of rent.  (1)

There are three key reasons to conduct tenant screening.

  1. Protect Property – A bad tenant or roommate could treat property with little respect or care.  The cost of replacing damaged items could be significant.
  2. Protect People – In a roommate situation understanding who is sleeping across the hall is critical.  In many roommate or co-op arrangements the relationship can be relatively new. Information drawn from public records combined with a conversation and interview will assist in the decision-making process.
  3. Protect Reputation – Perhaps not as critical in a co-op or roommate situation, tenant screening can assist in creating a positive environment in assisting in attracting and developing a longer term relationship.

From the cooperator.com (Dec. 15):

Simply put, it is the fiduciary responsibility of the board to get all the facts about a prospective resident—especially if said prospective resident did hard time for something egregious, like sexual assault. Boards must protect the investment made by the building’s existing unit owners.  (2)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “As is true with traditional landlord-renter relationships, co-op and roommates should utilize a third-party tenant screening company, one that is capable of accessing on-line databases and researchers capable of drawing information from county courthouses.”

In some areas of the country larger co-ops are popping up.  Again, Northern California is leading the way.

From PenisulaPress.com (Dec. 12, 15):

Startup employee Elena Stamatakos saves on rent by living in a housing cooperative, called Ithaka, located a few blocks from downtown Palo Alto. Stamatakos became head of logistics at Feeding Forward, a food conservation startup, after earning a master’s degree at Stanford. She said she wouldn’t be able to afford an apartment in Palo Alto unless she were to share it with “at least five people.”

Occupying three separate structures, Ithaka’s 20 residents lower their expenses by purchasing food in bulk, splitting utility bills and leveraging diverse skill sets. When the co-op’s television stopped working, one resident was able to replace a broken part at a fraction of the cost of a new TV. (3)

Almeida adds:  “Regardless of the living situation, co-op or roommate, tenant screening should be a part of the process as it will assist in protecting property and people.  And a third-party tenant screening company will be able to assist.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party resident screening company that provides tenant background 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)    peninsulapress.com/2015/12/15/bay-area-home-sharing/

(2)    cooperator.com/article/predators-vs-privacy

(3)    peninsulapress.com/2015/12/15/bay-area-home-sharing/

Evictions are Tricky, Use Third Party Tenant Screening states TenantScreeningUSA.com

Evictions are one of the most complex tasks a landlord and/or property manager can undertake as a part of doing business in the rental market.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com urges all landlords and property managers to utilize third-party tenant screening company’s and states: “As the rental properties remain in high demand, now, more than ever, is the time to work with tenant screening companies, if only to understand the complexities of evictions.”
Evictions are a complicated matter and for landlords and property managers evictions are a key indicator to the potential success of a long-term tenant.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “Understanding the past is critical in predicting the future of a potential tenant and understanding evictions is at the core of all tenant screening.”

Tenant screening is a process in which a rental applicant’s past is correlated through various public records and available references.

From realtytoday.com (Nov. 25, 15):

Tenant screening is a process conducted by landlords and property managers to evaluate if prospective tenants can fulfill the terms of the lease, and if they can take care of the property in question. The process typically involves collecting personal identifying information, including employment, credit records, previous realty standing, and criminal history.  (1)

Almeida states:  “The rental housing market remains extremely advantageous to the landlord as vacancies remain relatively low.  But key in maintaining profitable long-term residents is tenant background checks. Evictions are important to understand but they can prove challenging.”

A woman moving to Washington State recently discovered that she “failed” an evictions check even though she had never legally been evicted.

From KIROTV.com (Nov. 17, 15):

… when she applied for an apartment after moving to Washington state, her tenant background screening gave her a “fail” for having a landlord-tenant court record. Some landlords immediately assume that was an eviction and deny housing, despite the fact that many tenants are never forcibly removed from their units. (2)

Tenant screening companies operate under the guidance of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) and can only report evictions that occur up to seven years in the past. (3)

Almeida states:  “It is important to note that eviction reports may not necessarily report convictions.  Often times they will report eviction actions that are resolved without any additional court action.”

Utilizing a third-party tenant screening company not only has the access to all records pertaining to evictions but can save valuable time with the ability to check references, specifically those with previous landlords or property managers.

Experts suggest that contacting a previous landlord as the best course of action regarding a potential tenant.

From realtytoday.com (Nov. 25, 15):

…the best way to conduct tenant screening is still the old-fashioned way.  “A very effective practice is calling the last landlord, who has no ulterior motive to give you a false positive. But of course, the only landlords who can do that are those who have the time and don’t depend on volume…”  (4)

Almeida states:  “As the rental market stays hot it is critical that landlords and/or property managers utilize third-party tenant screening companies to conduct all their tenant checks, but, perhaps more importantly, to thoroughly investigate eviction reports and claims in order to present the most accurate information available.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company whose highly trained staff can guide landlords and property managers through the various complexities of evictions and eviction reporting.  Well versed in all aspects on tenant screening, TenantScreeningUSA.com can provide a highly efficient and cost-effective tenant check package for properties large and small.

Notes:

(1)    realtytoday.com/articles/55374/20151125/tenant-screening-why-landlords-conduct-background-checks-before-accepting-offer.htm

(2)    kirotv.com/news/news/never-evicted-still-failing-tenant-background-chec/npPpg/

(3)    kirotv.com/news/news/never-evicted-still-failing-tenant-background-chec/npPpg/

(4)    realtytoday.com/articles/55374/20151125/tenant-screening-why-landlords-conduct-background-checks-before-accepting-offer.htm