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Tenant Screening – Make Sure You’re Not Discriminating

Close Up View of a Corpus Christi Rental Property ApplicationOwning successful Corpus Christi rental properties requires careful tenant screening. Though it may appear simple, the process occasionally isn’t. Your screening procedure may violate various federal or local landlord laws in several different ways. These rules are made to protect protected renter classes from potential discrimination and to provide livable housing. They help protect tenants and prospective renters from the very first conversation. Because of this, it’s crucial to check that your tenant screening is not only thorough but also devoid of any forms of discrimination. By abstaining from discrimination, you not only keep yourself out of potentially crippling lawsuits, but you also make sure that your procedure is just and in line with all relevant legislation. 

Fair Housing Act 

The Federal Fair Housing Act (FFHA) is the most crucial federal law regarding discrimination that property owners should comprehend. All interactions between tenants and landlords are covered by the act. A tenant’s race, sex, religion, family situation, or disability, to name a few, cannot be used as grounds for a landlord to refuse to rent out a property under the FFHA. The FFHA forbids landlords from misinterpreting the provision of a rental home to a tenant or from demanding that certain tenants adhere to more rigid requirements. This includes asking some tenants for a larger security deposit or evicting someone for any reason that wouldn’t lead you to evict another tenant. 

Penalties for Discrimination 

There may be serious repercussions for violating FFHA. For their first offense of the Fair Housing Act, a property owner, for instance, could be hit with a maximum civil penalty of $21,663. Respondents who had broken the Fair Housing Act in the previous five years were subject to a maximum fine of $54,157, and those who had broken it twice or more in the previous seven years were subject to a maximum fine of $108,315. Avoiding these sanctions is reason enough to ensure that your applicant screening process does not discriminate against any applicants. 

Strategies for Legal Tenant Screening 

It’s crucial to have a clear set of guidelines for every interaction with prospective or current tenants to guarantee that your screening process is both thorough and legal. 

Clarify Approval Criteria. Since tenant screening begins with the very first conversation you have with a prospective tenant, it is essential to take precautions to maintain FFHA compliance. It’s important to mention your approval standards and expectations throughout the first conversation. 

Avoid Illegal Questions. Throughout the tenant screening process, avoid asking questions that could compel a tenant to disclose confidential information. Throughout tenant screening, it is generally inappropriate to inquire about ancestry, race, or national origin. Inquiries about a person’s disability or family situation are the same. These inquiries should not be seen on your application forms and must be avoided during the conversation except when the tenant brings them up. 

Examine Your Approval Process. Examining your screening process for other possible forms of discrimination is crucial. For instance, Corpus Christi property managers should typically accept and review tenant applications in the order that they are received. It is discrimination to receive an application but then wait for another applicant to apply before reviewing it. You should move ahead with the screening process for an applicant when all of their application forms are submitted and they have paid the necessary fees. It’s okay to disqualify an applicant based on predetermined standards, such as a poor credit score or unflattering references. It is not ethical, however, to make an applicant wait for a reply while hoping for someone else to qualify. 

Know and Follow the Law. Last but not least, every landlord should be fully aware of the regulations in place in their community regarding the renting of people with criminal records. It’s helpful to comprehend what they are and modify your tenant screening process accordingly because not all criminal offenses are considered good enough grounds to deny a tenant a rental. 

Your tenant screening process shouldn’t discriminate against any particular applicant if you are aware of the local and federal laws that apply to it and you follow them. This will aid you in avoiding any fines or legal action, as well as assist in offering your neighborhood fair housing. 

You might want to hire someone to manage your property entirely if you need some property management advice. Contact Real Property Management Shoreline right away at 361-885-0500 or contact us online now! 

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.