Potential Discrimination in Housing is On-Going, Possible Change to HUD Rules Could Add to the Challenge; Opines TenantScreeningUSA.com

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development is facing increasing pressure from various business groups to relax legal rules in housing, such as Disparate Impact, in order to further allow automated algorithms to make choices in housing. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com, opines: “Anytime a department of the federal government, such as HUD, and one that affects housing on every level, landlords and property managers should take note and work closely with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency, such as TenantScreeningUSA.com, in order to remain compliant with existing and potential law governing their industry.

Tenant Background Checks Include Credit Reports, Credit Score, Criminal Background Reports, Eviction Record Reports and Leasing Recommendations.

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In times where availability of rental properties is at a premium, especially in larger cities, discrimination could be a very real problem. Landlords and property managers must remain diligent in protecting their properties from discrimination.

Potential changes to governance policies regarding automated tenant background screening may make discrimination challenges more difficult to prove and, subsequently, litigate. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com opines: “Discrimination in housing can still be a challenge and with potential change in guidance from HUD landlords and/or property managers should be prepared for change by working with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency in order to remain compliant with existing and potential new policy governing tenant screening.”

Disparate Impact is a legal theory that is oft cited as a tool of litigating cases of discrimination, specifically in housing, as well as hiring.

From Society of Human Resource Management’s webpage explaining disparate impact (no specific date applicable):

Disparate impact occurs when policies, practices, rules or other systems that appear to be neutral result in a disproportionate impact on a protected group. For example, testing all applicants and using results from that test that will unintentionally eliminate certain minority applicants disproportionately is disparate impact. (1)

Almeida states: “Disparate impact may not be intentional and obvious but it can greatly impact protected classes.”

Recently, landlords and business lenders have allegedly been pushing to relax laws and guidance’s regarding housing.

From theVerge.com (Oct 22,19):

Landlords and lenders are pushing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to make it easier for businesses to discriminate against possible tenants using automated tools. Under a new proposal that just finished its public comment period, HUD suggested raising the bar for some legal challenges, making discrimination cases less likely to succeed. Fair housing advocates have cried foul, arguing that the change will open the door for companies to discriminate with algorithms and get away with it. (2)

Almeida adds: “In times where availability of rental properties is at a premium, especially in larger cities, discrimination could be a very real problem. Landlords and property managers must remain diligent in protecting their properties from discrimination.”

HUD continues to review revising current policy but the results will potentially be controversial.

From JournalistsResource.org (Oct 25, 19):

Public comments on the proposed rule closed late last week. HUD received more than 3,800 comments. Critics say the proposed rule would make it nearly impossible for people to bring civil action using the disparate impact standard. Supporters say it would allow housing-related businesses to pursue their goals without undue concern that litigation based on disparate impact might be brought against them. (3)

Almeida concludes: “When HUD considers a change this significant landlords and/or property managers should take note and ensure they are working with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency in order to remain fully compliant with all policies governing tenant screening and housing.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com provides full-service tenant screening services for landlords and property managers of any size and can greatly assist in remaining fully compliant with all existing law governing tenant screening. With a highly trained and experienced staff, TenantScreeningUSA.com can provide help to landlords and property managers with all their tenant screening needs.

Notes:
(1) shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/disparateimpactdisparatetreatment.aspx
(2) theverge.com/2019/10/22/20925861/housing-algorithms-hud-landlord-discrimination-automated-tools-banks-lenders
(3) journalistsresource.org/studies/society/housing/proposed-hud-rule-disparate-impact-housing-discrimination/

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