Do’s and Don’ts When Using Internet to Screen Tenants

In the midst of legal uncertainties, many landlords are wondering how they can safely use the Internet to vet prospective tenants. The problem with social media screening, however, is that you’re apt to come upon information that is not only not true, but if true, should have no bearing on your decision as to whether to rent to this person. Making rental decisions based on the race, religion, ethnicity, etc. of the applicant (or the applicant’s associates) would be a violation of the federal fair housing laws. Therefore, the critical thing is to separate the social media searcher from the person who makes the decisions, so that any irrelevant information discovered in the course of the search never gets to the person making the hiring or renting solution. One way to do this is to hire a third party, a screening firm, who will pass on to you only the information that you can legally rely on when screening applicants. When you do that, the firm complies with the disclosure and reporting requirements of the FCRA. Another tack is to have someone on your staff do the screening and report to you, keeping back irrelevant information. It’s essential that you train this person on the legalities of screening and fair housing laws.

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Posted Under: Tenant Screening

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