Posted by & filed under Property Management.

Has COVID-19 made you more concerned about the state of your rental property? If so, you may be considering an inspection. However, before you pay your tenant a visit, it’s important to take their privacy into consideration.

Most state laws allow landlords to enter their tenant’s homes under specific circumstances, but they must meet certain legal requirements beforehand, like providing ample notice. While you have a right to enter the property, your tenant also has the right to privacy. If a tenant denies access to their home for any reason, you may not be able to enter unless there is a serious issue.

Despite this, there are landlords who don’t honor privacy laws. Some will enter the property whenever they like, or will spy on their tenants to make sure they’re following the lease agreement. This can lead to legal issues, including claims of harassment. So, no matter how concerned you are about inspecting your property, it’s vital to be respectful of your tenants and approach any instance of entering their property in a professional and legal manner.

Addressing Long-Term Guests

Most property managers and landlords will likely have to deal with long-term guests at some point. A long-term guest would be considered anyone the tenant houses for an extended period who isn’t on the lease. The issue with long-term guests is that if they cause any damage to the property or break terms on the tenant’s lease, there’s little that can be done about it.

While it may be tempting to just keep close tabs on the situation, this approach puts you at risk of breaching your tenant’s privacy. The best approach is to confront the problem directly. You can schedule an inspection or ask for a meeting to address the issue. Give your tenant a chance to explain why they have a long-term guest and be open about your expectations while they’re staying at the property.

Prevent Tenant Privacy Violations

One way to avoid problems with long-term guests is to have a clearly outlined guest stipulation in your lease. Be clear about your expectations regarding consecutive overnight stays, the number of visits a tenant can have in a certain period of time, and your rules about subletting. This will give your tenants a better understanding of their responsibilities if such a situation arises.

Providing Notice before Entering the Property

Some landlords will show up at their tenant’s door unannounced or check up on them without a valid reason. This can feel extremely intrusive to tenants, and it’s often illegal. There are laws that prohibit frequent disruptions to tenant privacy, including things like making unnecessary repairs. One of the few exceptions is if a tenant is engaging in unlawful activities. However, in most circumstances, the law requires that landlords give notice.

The amount of notice a landlord is required to give a tenant varies from state to state, but it’s typically 24 – 48 hours’ notice. Even when you’ve provided notice and the tenant agrees, it’s still recommended that you keep a written record. Document all the repairs and reasons why you’ve needed to visit the property. This provides proof that you haven’t stopped by unannounced or made unnecessary repairs in case the tenant claims otherwise.

Smart Devices

Some landlords have begun to adopt smart devices at their properties, such as water sensors, locks, and thermostats. These devices can save on energy bills and they often make the home more convenient and comfortable for tenants. They can also increase the property value, making it easier to rent or resell it at a higher price.

Despite this, property owners should always discuss adding these devices with the tenants before they’re installed. Some tenants may feel wary about this new technology, either because they don’t understand how it works or they don’t trust it. Some smart devices can collect data, which can be delivered to third parties who could potentially misuse the information. Often, this involves selling a tenant’s information to an advertiser. The advertiser can then use the information to target the tenant or their demographic for sales and promotions.

Not only can this be annoying, but it may also create trust issues. So, the best practice, in this case, is to have an open conversation about the technology before it’s installed to make sure the tenant is comfortable with it.

Keep Communication Open From the Beginning

Essentially, the best way to avoid breaching your tenant’s privacy is to keep lines of communication open. Ideally, open communication should begin when you start screening potential applicants. This not only sets you up for finding great tenants, but it can also help you avoid turnover.

As applicants become tenants, and the relationship grows, both parties should work to continue communicating effectively. If all conversations are built on transparency and mutual understanding, your relationship with your tenants will be positive and respectful.

Posted by & filed under Tenant Screening.

Tenant screening is an essential step for finding a reliable renter for your Brookline MA property. However, thoroughly screening each applicant can take valuable time away from your property management. Tenant Screening Center saves you time and hassle with our affordable, in-depth tenant screening reports. Whether you need a tenant credit report or a background check, you can trust that you’re receiving accurate information. Since 1985, we’ve been helping landlords and property managers just like you place excellent tenants and protect their properties. All reports are available online 24/7, with a range of reporting options to meet your rental criteria and budget. Order yours today to start making the most informed decisions possible.

Tenant Screening Brookline MA

Your property represents a significant investment, so why shouldn’t you do everything you can to protect it? By using our tenant screening services, you can ensure that the applicants you select have a history of being responsible and dependable. Without screening, there’s no way to know how a person may behave as a tenant. They may seem like a good candidate, but without objective information, how can you really know? With our screenings, you can access a wealth of information to decide if they’re the right fit for your property.

Benefits of our Reports

With our tenant credit report, you’ll be able to assess an applicant’s financial stability. This report includes credit history, rental history, and the applicant’s level of debt. A credit history that contains inconsistencies may signal a red flag. Likewise, a high level of debt may indicate that the applicant would have greater difficulty making on-time rent payments. You’ll also be able to see whether they pay their bills on time, have been sent to collections, or have defaulted on rent. A tenant background check will give you insight into how the applicant has been as a tenant. You’ll have access to their credit history, eviction history, and employment history. Have they been able to maintain a steady job? Have they ever been evicted? These are just a couple of important considerations when selecting your new tenant.

In addition to our tenant credit report and background checks, we also offer mobile home park screening and commercial tenant screening for your Brookline MA property. Place your order online or contact us at 1-800-523-2381 with any questions you have.

Posted by & filed under Tenant Screening.

If you want to make the best possible choice for your Cambridgeport MA rental property, turn to Tenant Screening Center for accurate, reliable tenant screening reports. Since 1985, we’ve been helping landlords and property managers around the nation place good people into great homes. Our services are available online 24/7, so you can conduct screenings whenever it’s convenient. We provide different levels of screenings, making it easy for you to tailor your reports to your rental criteria and budget. Whether you need a tenant credit report or tenant verification, our reports save you time and give you the peace of mind you deserve. Order your tenant screening reports today!

Tenant Screening Cambridgeport MA

If you’ve ever had a bad tenant, you understand the importance of screening your applicants. Bad tenants may damage your property, fail to pay rent on time, or other small issues that compound and make you regret your selection. However, conducting tenant screenings on your own can be time-consuming, especially if you’re evaluating a number of applicants. Often, you’ll find the information available is limited, making it difficult to make an informed decision. Our tenant screening services make the whole process easy and streamlined. Choose the level of reporting you’re interested in, and we’ll gather the information you need.

Whey Else You Should Screen

Another important reason to screen your tenants is that it protects you from potential discrimination claims. By basing your decision on objective information from a tenant credit report or tenant background check, it makes it harder for an applicant to claim there was bias involved. If the applicant doesn’t meet your rental criteria, then you have a clear, valid reason to deny them. For example, if you see they have a high debt to income ratio, you can assume they would have a more difficult time paying rent consistently than the other applicant with a low debt to income ratio. Using their credit history, credit score, and other metrics as a guide gives you insight into the applicant’s reliability, financial stability, and projected outcome as a renter.

We also offer screening for commercial tenants, mobile home parks, and more. Having tenants you can trust with your Cambridgeport MA makes your property management as stress-free as possible. Order your reports online or feel free to reach out to us at 1-800-523-2381.

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Tenant Screening East Cambridge MA

When you need tenant screening for your East Cambridge MA property, turn to a company that’s been paving the way for the rental housing industry since 1985. Listed first in The Landlord’s Handbook, Tenant Screening Center provides reliable, accurate screenings that will help you make the most informed decisions. With over 35,000 clients around the nation, our name has become synonymous with excellence and integrity. Our in-depth reports are conveniently available online 24/7, making it easy to assess applicants around your busy schedule. Whether you’re a landlord or a property manager, our tenant screening services are the best way to keep your properties protected. Place your order today!

Whether you need a tenant credit report or a tenant background check, digging up the right information can be a time-consuming process. Not to mention, you may spend a significant amount of time searching, only to find limited information. That’s not the case when you use our reports. Our tenant screenings contain everything you need to select a reliable applicant. You can choose the level of reporting that fits your rental criteria- from a single, standalone report to a complete package. This makes it easy to tailor your screenings so that you get only the information you’re interested in assessing.

What Our Screening Services Provide

When you use our tenant screening services, you can access information like payment history, credit history, eviction history, and much more. You can see whether applicants have had steady jobs, whether they’ve moved around a lot, or verify their past performance as a tenant. Looking at these factors, you can safely evaluate whether the applicant would be a financial risk or a worthy candidate. We make the entire process quick and simple. All of our reports are available electronically, delivered on time, and accessed securely with a quick click of a button.

In addition to our tenant credit report and background checks, we also offer:

Place your order for tenant screening in East Cambridge MA today, or give us a call at 1-800-523-2381.

Posted by & filed under Tenant Screening.

No landlord or property manager wants to end up with a bad tenant, which is why tenant screening is so essential. However, do you have the time or the resources to conduct a thorough screening on your own? That’s where Tenant Screening Center comes in. Landlords and property managers across the nation have been relying on our reputable services since 1985. We offer in-depth reports available online 24/7, which can be easily tailored to meet the needs of your Newtonville MA property. Whether you’re looking for just a tenant credit report, or you’d like a complete package that includes a tenant background check, we make screening your applicants easy. Save time, money, and hassle by ordering your reports today!

Tenant Screening Newtonville MA

As a landlord, it can be difficult to screen applicants on your own. It’s time-consuming and often there’s not enough information to make an informed decision. You need to screen your tenants, though, or you run the risk of non-payment, property damage, eviction, or other legal hassles. Our tenant screening services make the process of selecting the right tenant easier. You’ll have access to information that will give you a complete picture and help you decide if the applicant represents a financial risk. Not only do we offer an assortment of different screenings, but you’ll also receive a summary that helps you navigate and understand the results.

The Most Important Information

With our tenant credit report, you’ll have access to three important factors: credit history, rental history, and debt level. Using these three pieces of information, you can safely evaluate how reliable an applicant is when it comes to meeting financial obligations. Do they pay their bills on time? Do they have defaults on loans or accounts that were sent to collections? Is their debt to income ratio high enough that they may be unable to make consistent, on-time rent payments? A tenant background check can help add to the full picture with employment verification and evictions search.

Our screening services are comprehensive, with options to fit any budget. We also offer tenant screening for commercial and mobile home parks. Place your order online today for the most comprehensive and reliable screening services for your Newtonville MA property or contact us at 1-800-523-2381.

Posted by & filed under Tenant Screening.

Riverside MA landlords and property managers know they can trust Tenant Screening Center for accurate, reliable tenant screening services. We’ve been paving the way for the rental housing industry since 1985 and currently serve 35,000 clients nationwide. Our in-depth reports are available online 24/7. We make it easy for you to reduce your workload and make the best possible decision for your rental home. Whether you’re interested in a tenant credit report or would like a complete tenant background check, we offer different levels of reporting to fit your criteria and budget. Order your report today and discover why we’ve consistently stayed at the top of the list in The Landlord’s Handbook!

Tenant Screening Riverside MA

Tenant screening is vital to protecting your property and ensuring smooth rental management. You can feel confident that you’re selecting applicants who will be financially responsible, respectful of your rental, and abide by the terms of your lease. This not only saves you money, potentially, but it also saves the hassle that comes with problematic tenants. Our tenant credit report gives you insight into the reliability of a prospective renter. Ideally, a good, stable candidate will pay their bills on time and avoid defaults. The report also looks at whether there is any negative rental history, such as defaults or court judgments. You’ll also be able to evaluate the level of debt the applicant has, and whether this may impact their ability to pay rent.

We offer a variety of reporting options to meet your needs, from simplified pass/no pass reports to in-depth, detailed screenings. Our RentalConnect program lets landlords pass the cost of the screening off to the tenant themselves. This allows you to save money and determine whether a tenant is serious about renting out your Riverside MA property. You can select the reports you want, and a request will be sent to the tenant. After the screening has been completed, the tenant grants you permission to view it. You can access it online at any time for up to 30 days. We also offer tenant screening for mobile home parks and commercial properties! Order your reports online today or contact us at 1-800-523-2381.

Posted by & filed under Rentals.

COVID-19 has caused a wide range of government responses concerning renter’s rights – and they’ve varied greatly depending on where a rental property is located. On the most extreme end, you have California, where state legislators proposed a bill that would reduce rent by 25% and ban evictions until 2022. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some cities like Philadelphia and Houston have created rent relief programs to send rent checks directly to rental property owners. Here’s a look at some of the most recent rent protection responses to be aware of.

California

California’s proposed AB 828 has been revised to remove the 25% rent reduction; as the bill currently stands, it would prohibit foreclosures and suspend the sale of tax-defaulted rental properties during the COVID-19 state of emergency (including 15 days after the state of emergency has ended). County recorders would be prohibited from issuing a notice of default, sale or a trustee’s deed upon sale, as long as the state of emergency is in place. Additionally, it would ban courts from accepting a complaint in a foreclosure action.

The second part of AB 828 would halt evictions during the state of emergency. Courts and county sheriffs would be prohibited from accepting unlawful detainer actions or executing a writ of possession. If a tenant isn’t able to keep up with rent payments due to COVID-19, the court could require them to make monthly payments, which would start at the beginning of the following calendar month. If this bill is passed, it would remain in effect until January 1st, 2022.

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia passed the Coronavirus Omnibus Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 on May 5th, which was signed into law on May 13. This act requires property owners with 5 or more rental units to create a rent payment plan for eligible tenants who have been affected by the state of emergency. The act also adds additional restrictions for eviction filings, commercial rent increases, and amenity changes.

New Jersey

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order that allows renters to request that their security deposits be used to make up any rent balance that’s past due. If rental property owners agree and use the security deposit for rent, they are prohibited from requesting an additional security deposit for at least 6 months after the state of emergency has ended, or until the lease has ended.

Renter Relief Programs

What You Need To Know About The Latest Rent Protections

There has also been a push for renter relief programs for tenants who have been unable to pay rent due to COVID-19, although they remain fairly limited at this time. Here are a few state and local governments that have created such programs:

Hawaii

Hawaii’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides Hawaiian citizens who have lost income due to COVID-19 with up to 6 months of rental assistance, as well as funds for a security deposit. To be eligible, the applicants must be native Hawaiians, on the Department of Hawaiian Home Land’s housing waiting list, and have a household income that’s 80% or less of the federal median income. Hawaii is also offering financial assistance for mortgage payments.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program will make direct rent payments to rental property owners for approximately 3,000 households. The payments cannot exceed $2,500 over three months. In addition, the renters must have made rent payments prior to April. Landlord recipients of the payments must agree that they won’t evict their renters for at least 6 months after the rental assistance payments have ended.

Houston, Texas

Houston approved a $15 million rental assistance program that began on May 7th. Rental property owners are required to enroll in the program online, at HoustonRentAssistance.org; after they’ve enrolled, tenants can apply to receive the funds. In order to qualify, rental property owners must waive all late fees and penalties that were accrued in April and May. For renters to qualify, they must be current on rent payments up until the month of April and have a median income of approximately $40,000 if single, or $60,000 for a family of four. The estimated rental assistance payment amount could be up to $1,056 per month.

Restrictions on evictions, rent increases, and late fees

Starting in March, many areas placed bans on late fees, rent increases, and evictions due to COVID-19. Since the virus continues to spread and affect the economy, it’s likely many of these areas will extend their restrictions; some local governments, like Baltimore and New York, have already taken action to expand on their current restrictions.

The situation with COVID-19 is constantly evolving. As the year progresses and federal and local governments continue to respond to the pandemic, it’s likely we’ll see expanded support for COVID-19 rental assistance, as well as extended rent and eviction protections. Since things continue to change rapidly, it’s best to keep a close eye on the latest laws affecting your rental properties to make sure you’re aware of any new regulations, expanded regulations, or opportunities for aid for you or your tenants.

Posted by & filed under Property Management.

As of the first week of May, 80.2% of renters around the U.S. had paid full or partial rent, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Despite this, the pressure is increasing for landlords and tenants alike as they struggle to cover expenses. The full financial repercussions of the pandemic aren’t yet known, but it’s likely we’re not out of the woods yet.

Is The Impact Of Covid 19 About To Get Worse

In April, the unemployment rate was a record-breaking 14.7%, which means more than 40 million renter households have had their finances impacted. Millions of renters have already received the $1,200 stimulus from the IRS but there currently aren’t any official plans from Congress to send out additional stimulus payments. At the moment, the chances of additional payments seem slim.

Unemployed citizens have been receiving a supplementary form of federal financial assistance: an additional $600 per week to complement state unemployment benefits. However, this aid is set to expire at the end of July. Some lawmakers have proposed extending those benefits indefinitely, but like the additional stimulus payments, there’s no official plan to do so at this time. If these funds lapse and renters are still unable to work due to job loss (particularly in the restaurant and hospitality industries), their ability to pay rent could suffer.

Both the stimulus and supplementary unemployment payments are undoubtedly helping many renters stay afloat financially, but what happens when they run out?

Even if the payments continue to cover rent, a large number of tenants are only paying partial rent. This number has grown month-to-month, particularly in large metro areas like Atlanta, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Concurrently, the amount of partial rent paid has dropped. In Seattle, one of the first hot spots for the virus, those who paid partial rent by May 6 settled only 35% of the total owed for the month; this is down from April at 37% and January at 44%. Los Angeles saw a similar decrease. In response to partial rent collections, many landlords are enacting payment plans for their tenants.

Landlords are struggling, too

While these payment plans benefit tenants, they’re eroding at landlords’ finances, many of whom were already affected by the initial COVID-19 fee waivers. This has caused revenue per unit to go down for many property owners. One landlord stated their average was approximately $100 per unit, which could equal a significant loss for many, especially if they own an apartment complex with 250 units.

Leasing has begun to pick up again; however, rent prices have plateaued and some areas are affected by government-mandated freezes. Some in the rental housing industry suggest the slowdown in rent growth, coupled with the price cuts, is larger than many people realize.

To make matters worse, eviction bans are scheduled to expire over the summer, which could lead to a wave of eviction cases, displaced residents, lower occupancy rates, and postponed move-ins. On the flipside, multifamily property owners who have federally backed mortgages can receive up to 90 days of loan forbearance under the CARES Act. Unfortunately, the mismatch between eviction halts and loan forbearance could cause some landlords to become delinquent or even default on their loans.

Ultimately, the government’s financial aid for unemployment during COVID-19 is likely inadequate in the long run, especially given the large number of people who have been impacted. With residents unable to pay their rent, property owners and managers will be unable to pay their mortgage, property taxes, and fund payrolls. This could potentially trigger another wave of financial and economic hardship. Hopefully, government aid will be extended or additional stimulus payments will be issued; if so, will it be sufficient?

Posted by & filed under Property Management.

Working from home definitely has its advantages. The commute is short, your dress code is extremely flexible, and many people find they’re more productive without the typical office distractions. With more people working from home due to COVID-19, you may be wondering: can I be a successful landlord or property manager working from home? With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to manage your property from a virtual office. Here are a few things you’ll need to get started:

Online Marketing

Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of ways to effectively market a vacancy for your rental property. You could rely on word of mouth or flyers, but the best way to get your property in front of the most renters is to post online. Craigslist is one popular and easy to use option, and there are also other sites like Zillow or Apartments.com. Regardless of which services you choose to use, it’s important to make sure that your advertising and messaging is consistent across all channels. A personal rental property website is also a great way to directly market your vacancies.

Virtual Tours

Virtual tours are a convenient way to show off your properties to prospective tenants. There are a couple of ways you can conduct virtual tours. You can use 3D software (like this one from Zillow) to create panoramic photographs that applicants can zoom in and look around the property, almost as if they were there in person. This requires a newer smartphone or a professional camera with panoramic capability. You will need to go to the property to do this, but once you’ve created the tour, you can post it on your listing or email it directly to interested parties.

The other option is to do a live video tour. This allows you to walk around the property and show off the features just as you would in person. Live video tours have some advantages over a 3D tour. You can talk about small details that wouldn’t be as visible in photos and the prospective tenant can ask questions in real-time. By offering virtual tours, you may open your property up to applicants you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Click here for more details on how to create a virtual tour.

Online Applications

Online applications make things easier for you as well as applicants. There’s no paper waste, lost paperwork, and you can review the applications without needing to leave your home. Our RentalConnect and QuickScreen services are an easy way to screen your applicants and have them complete an application online – while passing the cost of the screening off to them.

Online Background Checks

6 Tools You Need For Virtual Management

Once you’ve received the applications and are in the process of selecting one, you should run a background check. This will help you verify whether the applicant fits your written rental standards, including income requirements. With our services, this can be completed completely online without any face-to-face interaction with the applicants.

Online Lease Agreement

Once you’ve found the perfect tenant, you’ll want to have them sign the lease. This can be done virtually in a number of ways, including using a free app like DocuSign. We offer free lease agreement forms online, or you can write your own.

Rent Collection

Online rent collection is one of the fastest, easiest ways to collect payments. Typically, an ACH payment will clear quicker than a check, and there are no concerns about misplacing a check or rent getting lost in the mail or stolen. Tenants are also held more accountable for paying on time, as they can set up reminders for the due date. Not to mention, younger generations like millennials and Gen Z prefer online payments over cash, checks, or money orders. Here’s a list of some verified services that make online rent payments hassle-free.

While it may feel daunting to start managing your properties virtually, these tools will help streamline your operations and make them more efficient, particularly during the pandemic. For more information about any of the services we offer, please contact us at 800-523-2381.

Posted by & filed under Background Check.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in restrictions placed on the use of criminal records to make rental decisions. With the concerns surrounding COVID-19, many local and state correctional facilities have released prisoners early, and many of them will be searching for housing. Could previously those with criminal records become a protected class? If so, what would change for the rental housing industry?

The current constraints on criminal record screening vary drastically. On the lowest end of the spectrum, some local governments only dictate when a criminal report can be processed (generally once a conditional offer is extended to the applicant) and the procedure after the applicant is denied. Some areas restrict the amount of time the criminal records can go back. For example, in Cook County, Illinois, landlords and property managers can only consider the past 3 years of criminal records.

The most extreme case of criminal record restrictions is in Seattle, Washington, where property owners are completely prohibited from considering criminal records, with the exception of screening through the National Sex Offender Registry.

If people with a criminal record become a new protected class, it’s likely that criminal record screening would become useless or even considered discriminatory. However, that raises a valid question: if property owners and managers are discouraged or prohibited from criminal record screenings, what are the liabilities?

Will People With Criminal Records Become The Next Protected Class

Property owners and managers have some legal responsibility for the safety of their tenants, and this goes beyond keeping the premises habitable and maintained. For example, you could be held liable if a renter commits a crime on the property or against another renter. If you’re unable to screen an applicant’s criminal records due to legal restrictions, would your property still be held liable?

While further restrictions on criminal records and the industry impact are still all up in the air, there are a few things you can do now to prepare for the future.

Review your written lease and rental criteria

There’s no question that the rental housing landscape is changing, so it’s important that your leasing criteria adapts along with it to prevent the possibility of illegal or outdated practices. Here are some things you should keep in mind while reviewing it:

  • Avoid making one set of rental criteria and applying to all of your properties:
    Your properties may be in different locations or cater to different types of tenants. Make sure that your policies are appropriate for each individual property and make any needed modifications.

  • Create clear leasing standards for all decisions:
    What are your standards for accepting an applicant or denying them? Have these clearly written out and make sure to also establish criteria for conditional acceptances.

  • Avoid creating strict, black and white rules that don’t allow applicants to give more explaination or explain:
    This would include adding a clause like “no felonies.” Stating no felonies across the board doesn’t take into consideration the actual conviction in relation to housing. Instead, state something more specific, like “no violent crime convictions.”

  • Base your rental decisions on objective information rather than subjective information:
    Using subjective information like your tenant’s social media presence, how clean their car is or how they look puts you at risk of potential discrimination claims. Objective information, like tenant screening reports, is the best way to make an unbiased, well-informed decision.

  • Keep an eye on rental housing laws affecting your property:
    As we mentioned, there have been many restrictions placed on using criminal records for rental decisions over the past few years, and this trend is likely to continue. As laws change all the time, it’s possible to go from having a completely legal lease to one that’s in violation of the latest regulation.

Make sure your rental criteria is being applied equally

This is one of the areas you should be most proactive, as it applies to potential discrimination cases. If you run a property management company, make sure to train your leasing staff on your rental criteria frequently, especially if you’ve made changes. All rental criteria should be written and readily available should an applicant or staff member request it. If an applicant asks about it, be transparent about your rental criteria and it factors into your final decision.

Have trust in your leasing process

It’s important to have faith in your leasing process and avoid bending the rules to make an applicant fit them. Bending the rules defeats the purpose of creating leasing standards in the first place, but even worse, it could be seen as discriminatory. If it’s appropriate, you can conduct a formal re-review of your standards. Are they effective? If not, make the necessary changes and apply the new standards to all applicants going forward.

We can’t say for certain that criminal history will become a protected class, but it’s essential to be proactive. By reviewing your rental criteria now with the possibility of further restrictions to criminal record screenings in mind, you can potentially save yourself some time and legal hassle in the future.