When landlords require tenants to submit to background checks, landlords must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. A background check is considered a consumer report under the FCRA, and might include: credit reports from a credit bureau, such as Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax or an affiliate company; reports from a tenant screening service that describes the applicant’s rental history; reports from a tenant screening service that describes the applicant’s rental history; reports from a reference checking service that contacts previous landlords; or reports from background check companies about applicants or tenants’ criminal history.
To comply with the FCRA, landlords must obtain tenants’ permission to obtain a background check and may not use the report for any other purpose. Before landlords use the report to take adverse action against tenants, landlords must provide tenants notice and an opportunity to correct any wrong information in the report. Adverse actions may include: denying housing to the tenant; requiring a co-signer on a lease; requiring a deposit that other tenants must not pay; requiring a higher deposit than other tenants pay; or raising the rent.
If you are a tenant and you have been denied an apartment or other housing based on the incorrect use of a background check, call us to see if we can help you.
More information is available from the Federal Trade Commission here: Tenant Rights Under The FCRA.