State Rental Laws for Tenant Screening Guide provides essential information with helpful links for leases, landlord handbooks, security deposits, tenant screening and Landlord Tenant Law.
Click your State on the map.
Counties: There are 3,143 counties including county equivalents and D.C. in the United States. Connecticut and Rhode Island have counties, but they are not governing bodies. Alaska counties are called boroughs. Louisiana counties are called parishes.
How to Us the State Rental Laws for Tenant Screening Guide
Our State Rental Laws for Tenant Screening Guide has a separate page for each state including Washington D.C. Each page includes information links under the following subheadings: State Rules and Regulations, Important Lease Terms, Real Estate, Federal Law, Credit Reports and Tenant Screening. For example, under Real Estate you will find links to the state real estate commission and real estate license lookups.
Tenant Screening is used to screen both buyers and renters. Tenant Screening allows property managers, HOA Landlords and Realtors to screen potential applicants and identify financial or criminal red flags.
To begin, you need an application.
Renter/Buyer Application Form
Tenant screening agencies such as applycheck provide both online and paper rental applications. Using either method, the application process should include an in-person meeting. Getting to know the applicant is important. Matching the person to their submitted identity documents helps eliminate fraud. Most HOA’s require application fees. However, for individual landlords, charging a fee is a simple way to determine if an applicant is serious about your property. A delayed response or lack of communication may indicate it is time to move on to another applicant. Time is money, so try not to waste time on disinterested applicants. Applicants with poor financial or criminal histories may intentionally delay the process.
The application form should include:
- Personal Identity: Full Legal Name (including middle name), other names known by or aliases, date of birth, SSN, Driver’s License Number. Contact information.
- Address History
- Employment History
- Proof of Identity: Government issued Driver’s License, Passport, SSN Card, etc.
- Proof of Income such as pay stubs, copies of bank statements
- Yes/No questions regarding criminal and financial history
- Background Check
- Applicant Authorization
- Application Fee
Tenant Screening Application Review
For applicants who do complete the application process, they are compelled to be honest. The completed screening can identify the applicant’s misrepresentations. Maybe the applicant answered “no” to the eviction question but an eviction shows up on the screening report. If the applicant misrepresents their history on the application, it can be a basis for denial.
Tenant Background Screening Requirements
Set your requirements. A comprehensive tenant screening will determine the applicant’s ability and willingness to pay. A history of evictions, negative payment accounts or criminal records may not meet your requirements. Set your requirements before you start accepting applications but make sure those requirements are compliant with the law.
Federal Housing Laws
Next, your application process must meet the law. Even if your background screening does not include credit reports, you still must abide by federal, state and sometimes local housing laws. Compliance is serious business. Not following the law can lead to some hefty fines and penalties so be aware and stay compliant!
The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act (FHA), part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. (42 U.S.C. 3601-3619) Over the years, the FHA has been amended to include protections such as one against age discrimination. You can not screen tenants based on a protected class.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act
Federal law offers rights and protections when the landlord collects and uses your personal information through a background check. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to notice if you are turned down for a rental based upon information in a credit or tenant report. (15 U.S.C. §1681 et seq.) In addition, a landlord who uses a credit or tenant screening report must take steps to properly dispose of the report.
Online Tenant Screening
The simplest way to complete tenant screening is online. Online Tenant Screening provides many advantages. Online screening is faster and provides enhanced security for your tenants. Your applicant’s personal information is further protected. Legal disclosures can be auto-populated based on their state of residence.
Tenant Screening Agencies
Maybe with time and work you could put all the information together yourself. But a screening agency can provide the screening packages, technology and compliance making it way easier to be compliant and just get the job done. For online applications, ask about the applycheck One-Click Online Screening Invite here.
State Rental Laws for Tenant Screening Guide
Be Consistent. Be Objective. Use our State Rental Laws for Tenant Screening Guide to get the information you need to formulate your application process so it’s consistent with the requirements in your state. The tenant screening process should be consistent. To comply with the Fair Housing Laws, follow the same process for everyone. Get legal advice if you have any questions.
We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. Recent changes in law may not be reflected. We recommend consulting a lawyer or the government agency if you have legal questions or concerns.