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bornplaydie

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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #1 
My basic screening process involves having an open house for 4 hours. People come, see the apartment, fill out and application including a application fee check.

After the open house, I go through the applications and can eliminate some based on income, voluntary disclosure of convictions, basic calls to previous/current employment and landlords, etc. I am usually left with a handful (more than one) of applicants which seem good on paper.

Here is where my question comes in. How do I proceed to avoid discrimination?

I usually start with one that seems the "most promising" I cash their their application fee check and use the money to run a background/credit check. If it is clean I offer them the apartment (if not I run the check for my second choice, and etc.). If they accept and sign a lease, I return the application fee checks of the other potential applicants and let them know the apartment was taken. I have been successful with this approach. My unit is in Hawaii

In choosing the "best" initial application to proceed with, I use my sixth sense from meeting them face to face. I also may have a single older professional woman vs. a family of 5 including 3 small, loud, children. However, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against family status. But in this case I am likely to run credit on the single women and if it comes back clean, offer her the apartment. If not I can run credit on the family or other applicant (my next choice).

I came across this during a resent search...

"Screen all applicants in the exact same manner so you are not accused of discrimination."

"Landlords can use business or financial criteria such as credit scores, income minimums, or references indicating irresponsibility as a reason to reject an application."

"Declining to Rent to Someone With Bad Credit... First you must mail an "Adverse Action" letter explaining that you have declined their application because of their credit report. You must include the exact reasons for your rejection. You are also required to provide them with the name, address and phone number of the agency you used to run the credit report and inform them of their right to request a free copy of their credit report from the agency within 60 days."

My question: Is choosing the "best potential" tenant and running a background check on them setting me up for discrimination issues? And even if I ran both checks, and they both come back clean, how does a landlord justify his decision to offer the apartment to one applicant with clean credit vs. another with clean credit? Well, how does he do it legally?

Thanks in advance. If you reply with more than just an opinion, any sources would be great to include.
dishrodger

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Posts: 306
Reply with quote  #2 
you can also look at protecting your investment...wear & tear, etc
turbotenant

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Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #3 
In addition to a credit and criminal background check, there are other factors to include in your decision that would not violate Fair Housing. References, evictions, pets, smoking habits, and frequency of moves are also factors that can contribute to the decision to accept or reject an application.
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OHlandlord

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Posts: 3,700
Reply with quote  #4 
Also include:
- rental history - Does he move frequently or every year?  Or does he stay long term?  No landlord wants quick turnover.

- payment history  - Was he frequently late?  Or did he pay former landlords on time?

- landlord references - Lease violations, damages, gave proper notice to vacate, frequency of unreasonable repair requests?  No one needs a demanding, unreasonable tenant.

- employment history - Does he stay employed?  How long has be been on the job?  Does he have 3 x the rent in income?

- minor law infractions - Are there violations that repeat over & over?  Minor disturbances where repeated police calls would disturb neighbors?  If many traffic violations (irresponsible), are they close to losing their driver's license -and the ability to get to work?  Have they lost their license before for this?  This has happened to several tenants who then can't afford their rentals!  Background checks don't always look for misdemeanors.  Make sure your company does.

- civil court records - If civil judgments are present, they could come back and garnish 25% of the tenant's wages!  Could he still afford your place if that happens?

- social media - Look for frequent parties, drug references, unlisted pets, & other issues.  I've seen tenant showing drugs on their media pages, and damaging the place they live now!

- impressions - Are they neat & clean?  Polite?  Demanding?  If you can, drive by their current house.  How does it look?  Your place will look like that soon.
NoNonsenseLandlord

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Posts: 178
Reply with quote  #5 
Have a set criteria BEFORE you have an open house.  Share the criteria with potential applicants.

Screen the first one, and in order of which they apply.

As soon as one passes, do not screen any others.  Give any application fees back after you have a tenant.

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