Recent Actions in Portland, OR Tenant Screening Ordinance Highlight Challenge with Shifts in Law; Opines TenantScreeningUSA.com

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Recently officials in Portland, Oregon paused efforts to regulate landlords and property managers on vetting policy and procedures covering individuals with a criminal history and potential financial vulnerabilities. Adam Almeida opines: “The activities in Portland regarding the vetting process of new tenants puts a highlight on why landlords should work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency in order to remain fully compliant with new and existing laws governing the tenant screening process.”

The potential of change to laws governing tenant screening should force landlords to insure current policies and procedures are completely in sync with local, state, and federal law.

Officials in Portland, Oregon have put the brakes on a new law that could change how rental applicants are vetted. “Laws governing the use of criminal histories and credit information as a part of a tenant screening process change all the time, and recent actions in Portland, Oregon highlight the immediate need for landlords to work with third-party tenant screening agencies in order to remain compliant with law,” opines Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com.

Laws governing tenant screening and the legal and lawful process of vetting potential tenants can change frequently. In Portland, Oregon city officials have curbed recent attempts to governing the specific use of criminal history reports and consumer credit reports.

From OregonLive.com (Sep 24, 18):

Portland officials are pausing their drive to limit how landlords may vet potential tenants for past crimes and financial stability.

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly originally sought to have the City Council vote on an ordinance limiting the information landlords could use to turn away potential renters – including convictions for a long list of crimes, some of them violent. The day Eudaly projected the council would vote on such a proposal, September 20, came and went with no action. (1)

Almeida opines: “The potential of change to laws governing tenant screening should force landlords and/or property managers to insure current policies and procedures are completely in synch with local, state, and federal law. The Portland action should be an alert for action.”

The proposal has caused concern amongst landlords and renters. It would have had an immediate effect on landlords had it gone forward.

From theSkanner.com (Sep 13, 18):

In its current form, the ordinance states that a landlord “may consider only income and certain credit, rental and criminal history of an applicant as set out in this ordinance, and may only consider that information that is relevant to the applicant’s likely performance as a tenant.”

It doesn’t actually say that a landlord can’t reject a tenant based on criminal convictions – but a landlord who does reject a potential tenant based on certain criteria, including certain criminal convictions, has to provide an individual assessment explaining why the applicant was rejected. Even then, the ordinance specifies that the violent offenses included on the “low-risk criteria” list are only in consideration if it’s been more than three years since sentencing or one year since the applicant was released. (2)

Almeida opines: “In the end a best practice remains for landlords and property managers to work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency to stay compliant with existing law. And when potential change occurs, such as what recently occurred in Portland, landlords and property managers should take immediate note and ensure existing policies are current and compliant.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company available to provide all the data and informational reports a property manager requires in making a sound decision on a potential tenant, both traditional and vacation. With a well-trained and highly dedicated staff, TenantScreeningUSA.com can compile the necessary up-to-date background reports required to make a well-informed decision.

Notes:
(1)    oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2018/09/portland_officials_pause_effor.html
(2)    theskanner.com/news/northwest/27424-landlords-fight-screening-ordinance

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