Property Management Blog

Protecting Your Screening Process With the Freedom of Information Act

Dora Pinter - Friday, March 22, 2019

When it comes to tenant screening, all properties must follow the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Without it, Phoenix property management companies and landlords would be renting without the accurate information they need. This act ensures that you can always obtain objective, factual data about your applicants.  On March 16, 2019, the United States will celebrate Freedom of Information Day on President James Madison’s birthday. Long ago, Madison was a leading advocate for openness and transparency in the government. He was also instrumental in creating the United States Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution. So as a landlord, mark your calendar to celebrate on March 16th!
 How Does the Freedom of Information Act Help?
 The FOIA is useful for landlords because it lets you access verifiable data. You can look at your applicant’s criminal history and payment patterns. With this data, you can see how they acted as a tenant in the past so that you can make an informed decision about the future. Because this act exists, you can get information from a tenant screening company or credit reporting agency. You can look at your applicant’s credit score, criminal history, credit history and eviction history. Basically, the FOIA protects a landlord’s right to find out who you are renting to.
 While tenant screening can never be truly perfect, it gives you objective data for vetting your applicants. As long as you stick to your rental standards, your property is considered Fair Housing compliant. 

 You are also entitled to see your own information. Each year, the federal government says that you can obtain one free credit report. Your rental applicants are also allowed a copy of the tenant screening report.
 How Does This Act Help My Renters?

 This act helps more than just the landlord. Your tenants and rental applicants benefit through this act as well. You would never rent your property to someone you have never met. Subjective reasons like social media accounts or personal appearance would also be a terrible way to decide if a prospective tenant is right for you. By using tenant screening and sharing your rental criteria with all of your applicants, your existing tenants know what to expect. They also get the peace of mind of knowing that all of their neighbors have had to go through the same vetting process. You and your tenants get to enjoy having a safer community.
 Unfortunately, some landlords and property management companies do not see the value in retaining tenant screening records. Service Star Realty obtaining a proper tenant screening and keeping good record of it, it is easier to prevent problems at your properties. Property managers and owners must have continued access to tenant screening data. By staying informed, you can protect your leasing process.