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Tenant Screening

Due to a California Supreme Court ruling on Monday, August 20, 2018 in a case called Connor v. First Student, rental property owners, managers, and tenant screening companies must follow new requirements when unlawful detainer eviction and/or criminal background reports are requested or used.  The law has not changed with respect to credit reports.

  • In light of the new requirements, RHA encourages all members to contact their tenant screening companies to determine whether the screening company has proper procedures in place to comply with the requirements.
  • Rental property owners and managers, as well as screening companies, can face a minimum penalty of $10,000 per violation if they fail to comply with the requirements.

Available units

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As a housing provider you hold countless responsibilities.  Whether you own a single rental property or manage hundreds for others, managing property is a commitment; it's a commitment to the property owner, the community, and above all, a commitment to protect the asset.  Selecting the best possible resident protects you, your client and the investment.  Good tenants not only pay the rent on time, they care about the homes they live in, the neighborhood and the community.  Selecting the wrong tenant can be costly in unpaid rent, property damage, or liability for the actions of your tenant.  Proper screening reduces risk by ensuring you know your applicant BEFORE handing over the keys.

Equally important as selecting the best possible resident is selecting the best possible resident screening company.  The best screening companies are nationwide in scope, offer a comprehensive array of products and services, are easily accessible, and maintain knowledgeable experienced staff ready, willing and able to address your screening questions and needs.  To better assist the RHA members in selecting a resident screening company, RHA Southern Alameda has researched, interviewed, vetted and recommends the following provider:

National Tenant Network (NTN)

What does it mean?

Screening applicants today means more than running a retail credit report. For example, a retail credit report won’t provide you with unlawful detainer (eviction) filings and judgments. Spend a little extra money and be more informed about the person about to move into your rental property. Get a report package which provides you data about eviction history and retail credit information.

Know your Responsibilities before Screening a Prospective Resident

Fair Housing Starts Here

Screen ALL applicants — don’t discriminate and only screen some applicants and not others. Fair housing practices start with the application process. To avoid the appearance of discrimination, use the same credit searches on all applicants.


Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):

Tenant screening companies, such as NTN and CBA, are strictly regulated under the terms of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Anyone requesting consumer credit information about an applicant must be properly vetted and show “permissible purpose” before receiving consumer credit information.  Read more about FCRA here.  


Fair Housing:

Fair Housing Laws are in place to prevent discrimination in housing transactions, including sale, rental or financing of property. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability. Should you violate these laws as a landlord, whether intentionally or accidentally, you may be sued in Federal Court and ordered to pay actual and punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees and costs.


Receipt for Resident Screening and/or Credit Checking Fees

Rental housing owners and managers have the legal authority to collect a screening fee from all prospective residents. The law stipulates that:

  • Owners are allowed to charge prospective residents a screening fee to cover the costs of obtaining and evaluating information to make an educated rental decision. The initial law provided that in no case can the amount of the application fee charged by the owner be greater than $30 per applicant. 
  • Unless the applicant agrees, the law prohibits owners from charging a fee when they know that no rental unit is available and requires owners to return the fee if they do not perform a background check.
  • The owner must provide the applicant with an itemized receipt for the money paid.
  • Upon request, the owner must provide the prospective resident with a copy of any credit report obtained.

Want to learn more about membership in RHA? Call us at 510-537-0340 or email.