We integrated fair-housing compliant practices into our system for placing new tenants. Here's how.
Fair housing compliance
The FHA prevents a landlord from discriminating against an individual based on seven "protected classes." In the context of rental applications, this means that it's illegal to refuse to rent to someone, lie about the availability of a rental, or set different standards for qualifying or applying to a rental.
Objective selection criteria are listed publicly on each listing page
A clear and objective policy that any prospective applicant and applicant can see is not required by the Fair Housing Act but has been recommended in by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This minimizes any risk of preferential treatment accusations or simple confusion about what was or wasn't required later in the application process.
Requirements are consistently enforced across all applicants
Applicants are not able to submit their application unless it's been verified that they meet the screening criteria. The verification deliberately leaves no room for human interpretation. We think this is clearer for renters and significantly less risky for landlords. Here are some examples:
- If the applicant earns $4,000 per month, the rent is $1,400 and the qualification requirements are set to 3 times the monthly rent (the default) then our system will tell the applicant that they don't meet the requirements because the minimum monthly income is $4,200
- If the applicant's credit score is 590 and the FICO qualification requirement is set to a minimum of 600 then the applicant will be unable to submit an application
Screening criteria assess a tenant's ability to pay rent
We provide recommended tenant qualification criteria and set your account up with these criteria by default. They aim to assess the applicant's ability to pay the monthly rent in a transparent, objective and evenly-applied way. They do not aim to assess anything besides the applicant's ability to pay the rent.
Criminal history is not included in the default requirements
It's illegal for a housing provider to impose a one-size-fits-all criminal history qualification requirement. Instead, providers can impose an individualized policy and should be prepared to prove that this policy is necessary to protect the safety of other residents. We have determined that HUD guidance regarding what does or does not constitute an acceptable individualized policy leaves significant room fre grey areas (and potential lawsuits). As a result Caretaker does not recommend that a criminal history policy be applied.
Fair credit reporting compliance
The Fair Credit Reporting act requires landlords to let applicants know if they’ve been rejected because of something on their credit report or rental history. In accordance with the FCA we send an adverse action notice to any applicant who was rejected when the qualification requirements included a minimum FICO score. Each notice will go to the email address that the applicant used to register the Caretaker or Apartment App account with. It includes:
- The name, address and telephone number of Transunion, the consumer reporting agency (CRA) that supplies Caretaker’s consumer reports
- A statement that the CRA that supplied the report didn’t make the decision to take the adverse action and can’t provide the reasoning behind the decision
- A notice of the applicant’s right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information in the report, and the consumer’s right to request a free report from the CRA within 60 days