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Tenant Screening – Make Sure You’re Not Discriminating

Close Up View of a Hoffman Estates Rental Property Application

Owning profitable Hoffman Estates rental properties necessitates thorough tenant screening. However, the process is not always as straightforward as it may appear. There are several ways that your screening procedure might violate local or national landlord laws. These rules are made to protect protected renter classes from potential discrimination and to provide livable housing. From the beginning of the conversation, they protect tenants and prospective tenants. 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 statute for property owners to comprehend when it comes to federal laws against discrimination. The act covers all facets of landlord-tenant relations. 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 encompasses needing a larger security deposit from certain tenants or evicting a tenant for a reason that would not result in the eviction of another tenant. 

Penalties for Discrimination 

There are major consequences for violating FFHA. For example, if a landowner is found in violation of the Fair Housing Act for the first time, a maximum civil penalty of $21,663 can be imposed. 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. It is wise to make sure that your applicant screening procedure does not prejudice any applicants simply to avoid incurring these penalties. 

Strategies for Legal Tenant Screening 

It’s essential to have specific rules for every interaction with potential or present tenants if you want to make sure that your screening process is both thorough and legal. 

Clarify Approval Criteria. Since tenant screening begins with the very first conversation you have with an applicant for your rental property, it is imperative to take precautions to maintain FFHA compliance. You should make it a priority to explain your approval criteria and expectations during this initial conversation. 

Avoid Illegal Questions. All through the tenant screening process, resist asking questions that could entice a tenant to divulge private information. During tenant screening, questions regarding heredity, race, or national origin are typically improper. Inquiries about a person’s disability or family situation are the same. These questions should not show up on your application forms and should be avoided in the discussion unless the tenant talks about it. 

Examine Your Approval Process. Examining your screening process for other possible forms of discrimination is crucial. For instance, as a general rule, Hoffman Estates property managers should approve applications and screen tenants in the order that they are received. It is discrimination to collect and then sit on an application because you are waiting for another person to apply. You should proceed with the screening process for an applicant whose application materials are complete and for whom the necessary fees have been paid. It’s okay to disqualify an applicant based on predetermined standards, such as a poor credit score or unflattering references. However, it isn’t acceptable to keep an applicant waiting for a response while you wait for another applicant to be accepted. 

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. 

Knowing the federal and local laws in your area and abiding by them can make sure that your tenant screening process does not discriminate against any applicant. This will assist you in avoiding any penalties or legal action, as well as help your community by offering fair housing. 

You might want to hire someone to manage your property entirely if you need some property management advice. Contact Real Property Management Northwest Chicago Suburbs right away at 847-737-4800 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.

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