Milwaukee Proposal Highlights Need for Landlords to Work with Tenant Screening Agency to Stay Compliant with Law; Opines TenantScreeningUSA.com

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A new proposal in Milwaukee County highlights potential changes to tenant screening laws that could significantly alter the tenant screening landscape. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states: “Milwaukee County’s action to add Section 8 housing recipients as a protected class could alter tenant screening practices and, subsequently, highlights an urgent need for landlords and property managers to work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency to stay compliant with potential changes to tenant screening practices.”

Tenant Background Checks include credit reports, credit score, eviction reports and criminal background checks.

Tenant Screening USA

Changes in policy and practice in tenant screening occur frequently and the Milwaukee County action highlights an immediate need for landlords to work with a well-qualified tenant screening agency.

Milwaukee County’s recent move to create a “protected class” for section 8 voucher holders could potentially alter tenant screening both in policy and practice. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com opines: “Changes in policy and practice in tenant screening occur frequently and the Milwaukee County action highlights an immediate need for landlords to work with a well-qualified tenant screening agency to ensure compliance with law.”

The county proposal plans to create a protected class for rental assistance recipients which would alter current federal law.

From WUWM.com (May 10, 18):

Rental assistance recipients could soon be considered a protected class in Milwaukee County. A new proposal relating to fair housing would ban landlords from refusing to rent to people in housing assistance programs.

The plan is expected to go before a county board committee later this month.

Current federal law does not require landlords to accept housing choice vouchers; therefore they can legally refuse to rent to voucher holders. (1)

Almeida adds: “Laws change all the time and staying current with those changes are a primary concern for landlords and property managers.”

Discrimination can occur in housing and the Department of Housing and Urban Development continues to be tasked with eliminating or greatly reducing the potential of discrimination. Current federal law protects different groups of people from such discrimination.

Almeida adds: “Landlords need to take significant steps to ensure fair and equal treatment of all applicants across all classes of people. Adding housing voucher holders as a protected class may be a step taken by other municipalities and cities across the country.”

There are several steps a landlord can take to prevent discrimination.

A recent article at AZBigMedia.com (Feb 09, 18) highlights a couple of key steps for landlords.

4 – DO stay abreast of new developments affecting screening. One of them is a pending amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, introduced in Congress last August as S.1758. Currently, eviction reports used in the tenant screening process can include records dating back seven years. Under the amendment, called the Tenant Protection Act, only eviction records no older than three years and resulting in a judgment that is not being appealed will be allowed. Use of older records would be viewed as discriminatory.

5 – DON’T automatically reject an applicant with a criminal background record. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a memorandum on how housing providers can, and cannot, utilize arrest and conviction records. (2)

Almeida concludes: “Ultimately a best practice remains that landlords should work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency in order to remain current and compliant with laws governing tenant screening.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company specializing in tenant background screening for small to mid-size property. With a highly trained staff, TenantScreeningUSA.com remains focused on full compliancy with existing law as well as remaining involved with new or pending legislation.

Notes:
(1)    wuwm.com/post/county-proposal-would-ban-landlords-discriminating-against-people-housing-vouchers#stream/0
(2)    azbigmedia.com/dos-donts-non-discriminatory-tenant-screening/

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Dan Adams
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