Posted by: phillipsre | March 6, 2014

BYO (BRING YOUR OWN) CREDIT REPORT

Tenant Credit ReportTenant advocates introduced two bills this session relating to tenant screening practices, HB 2537 regarding tenant screening portability and SB 6291 requiring landlords to forego the charge to a prospective tenant for costs incurred in obtaining a tenant screening report if a “comprehensive tenant screening report” regarding the prospective tenant, prepared within thirty days of the application date, is made available by the tenant to the prospective landlord.

There are a few concerns from a landlords perspective with these bills. A consumer report must be up-to-date. Information on the consumer report can change daily and sometimes hourly. A portable report is unable to meet that need. In today’s age of technology, an individual can create a credit report that appears to be legitimate by pasting in logos, matching tabs and changing font style to match the acceptable formats. The definition of a “comprehensive tenant screening reports” is inadequate. It is dangerous for Washington State to create a definition for a consumer report which is different than what is already regulated by Federal law.  Furthermore, not all consumer reports are the same. Some reports are very basic while others supply a great deal of detail about a person including previous addresses, social security number verification, fraud alerts, etc.  It should be left up to the rental property owner to decide which company provides the most complete and relevant information to make an informed decision.

By having your property management company screen your tenant you know the reporting results are legitimate.  In 2013, landlords agreed to provide tenants with a list of screening criteria in advance of collecting the screening fee and to provide more information in an adverse action notice when an applicant is denied housing based on screening results. This has only been in effect 18 months and needs to be given a chance to work before other changes are made.

If you are a Washington State resident, consider sharing your thoughts with the representatives from your legislative district or commenting on these bills by visiting www.leg.wa.gov , selecting Bill Search tab and entering the bill number.

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