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/

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