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…

 

Speak Your Mind

*