Planning to be a landlord? Understand difference between tenant screening and discrimination

Planning to be a landlord? Understand difference between tenant screening and discrimination


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If you are a wannabe landlord, tenant screening is going to be one of the most important obligations you would need to follow.

A landlord can screen a rental application to determine whether they should rent the property to a particular tenant. It’s a landlord’s basic right. A landlord can carry out a background check to know the following things about a rental applicant:

 

  • Credit rating
  • Criminal history
  • Employment history
  • Current financial situation
  • History of eviction
  • Rental history
  • References from previous landlords
  • Monthly income
  • Reason behind renting the property

As a landlord, you can, in fact should, check all these things. A tenant with a good credit rating is more likely to pay the rent on time compared to someone who has a poor rating. A stable job and good feedback from previous landlords can also be signs of a good tenant. These are basic obligations that a landlord should follow in order to avoid renting to a problem tenant, and avoid the stress that the process of evicting a problem tenant can cause.

Many landlords however go to extremes when exercising their tenant screening rights, unaware of the fact that it can land them in serious legal troubles. You cannot discriminate a tenant on following grounds:

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Color
  • Gender
  • Physical attributes or handicap
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Gender

You can create certain eligibility criteria for some of these conditions depending on the property type. For example, you can determine whether you will rent your property to a student and not a married couple.  But you need to enforce these conditions for every applicant. You can’t change them even if someone is not meeting your eligibility criteria and offers you a higher rent. If you have different yardsticks for different rental applicants, you may be sued on discrimination grounds in extreme cases.

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