Avoid Legal Restrictions In Your Resident Screening To Protect Yourself In the Industry

The rental housing industry is always changing. Even if current craziness was off the table, there were still rapid movements that made the laws vastly different from one coast to another. In California many things could be a protected class from hair color to clothing choices, while in New York City looking at eviction records could land you in a proper court of law. Something’s got to give, because while keeping up with every mood swing in legislation is a tough job, not keeping up can spell an incredible amount of trouble.

That’s a lot of information you can’t use! So, what information in that report are you actually allowed to use? Keeping up with each and every law is tricky, but it has to be done one way or another.

Keeping Up with Yourself

The rental housing industry is always changing. Even if current craziness was off the table, there were still rapid movements that made the laws vastly different from one coast to another. In California many things could be a protected class from hair color to clothing choices, while in New York City looking at eviction records could land you in a proper court of law. Something’s got to give, because while keeping up with every mood swing in legislation is a tough job, not keeping up can spell an incredible amount of trouble.

That’s a lot of information you can’t use! So, what information in that report are you actually allowed to use? Keeping up with each and every law is tricky, but it has to be done one way or another.

Keeping Up with Yourself

If you prefer to keep your bank statements a little bit higher, you can go at it yourself. Going the self-help route means you will need to check every day for legislative updates and read each and every law currently in discussion. You can join local apartment associations, as they will likely send you information regularly about shifting legislation by sending you resources. This could get time consuming and tedious but may prove to be beneficial as you come to a better understanding of the rental housing landscape in your specific area.

If you prefer to keep your bank statements a little bit higher, you can go at it yourself. Going the self-help route means you will need to check every day for legislative updates and read each and every law currently in discussion. You can join local apartment associations, as they will likely send you information regularly about shifting legislation by sending you resources. This could get time consuming and tedious but may prove to be beneficial as you come to a better understanding of the rental housing landscape in your specific area.

The problem with doing this by yourself is that you cannot skim these bills. This will take annotated reading and reading it more than once. When bills go through their process, they will often be resubmitted after edits, and over time, a bill can change from something about the rental housing industry into a bill about license plates – or the other way around!

Have it Done Before You Get It

Sounds a bit paradoxical, doesn’t it? When using a consumer reporting agency, it’s important to know, that’s all they are legally obligated to do: give you the information that you asked for. They may not adjust every report to comply with unique laws or ordinances in every city/county across the U.S. Maybe you’re in Cook County, Illinois, where criminal records are limited to three years! That’s not going to stop an agency from sending you criminal activity data from three and a half years ago. If you even see criminal records from over three years ago, it can land you in some serious legal trouble. Resident screening providers aren’t obliged to censor their own work, but you are obliged to know what you’re not allowed to factor into your final rental decision based on local and state law.

That’s what makes it good to know that some consumer reporting agencies will have your back. CIC will soon be helping with this by including our Regulatory Matrix. By inputting the zip code of the property, our Regulatory Matrix will automatically remove any information that you are not legally allowed to use, preventing you from even seeing it. That limits your liability from using illegal information in your decision-making skills.

Calling a Lawyer Regularly

The problem with doing this by yourself is that you cannot skim these bills. This will take annotated reading and reading it more than once. When bills go through their process, they will often be resubmitted after edits, and over time, a bill can change from something about the rental housing industry into a bill about license plates – or the other way around!

Have it Done Before You Get It

Sounds a bit paradoxical, doesn’t it? When using a consumer reporting agency, it’s important to know, that’s all they are legally obligated to do: give you the information that you asked for. They may not adjust every report to comply with unique laws or ordinances in every city/county across the U.S. Maybe you’re in Cook County, Illinois, where criminal records are limited to three years! That’s not going to stop an agency from sending you criminal activity data from three and a half years ago. If you even see criminal records from over three years ago, it can land you in some serious legal trouble. Resident screening providers aren’t obliged to censor their own work, but you are obliged to know what you’re not allowed to factor into your final rental decision based on local and state law.

That’s what makes it good to know that some consumer reporting agencies will have your back. CICReports helps with this by including the Regulatory Matrix on all reports when the zip code is included. By inputting the zip code of the property, CICReports’s Regulatory Matrix will automatically remove any information that you are not legally allowed to use, preventing you from even seeing it. That limits your liability from using illegal information in your decision-making skills.

Calling a Lawyer Regularly

What do you call a bus of lawyers on fire? Not enough lawyers! In all seriousness,  calling a lawyer on the regular for legislative updates does not sound fun. It sounds more like your wallet has a leak. However, this may be a more simple option. It is a lawyer’s job not only to keep up with all past and recent laws, but to understand every over-complicated word legislation uses. Having a lawyer around is an important part of protecting your hide, as a lawyer can tell you the risks of each action you take. In a legal sense, anyway.

What do you call a bus of lawyers on fire? Not enough lawyers! In all seriousness,  calling a lawyer on the regular for legislative updates does not sound fun. It sounds more like your wallet has a leak. However, this may be a more simple option. It is a lawyer’s job not only to keep up with all past and recent laws, but to understand every over-complicated word legislation uses. Having a lawyer around is an important part of protecting your hide, as a lawyer can tell you the risks of each action you take. In a legal sense, anyway.

Beyond recently passed legislation, lawyers provide very useful when questions you hadn’t had before suddenly crop up out of nowhere. Your resident has an emotional support monkey? Does that mean you get pet rent? A lawyer can answer fickle questions. That’s what they are there for.

Everyone has their own method to their work, and method in the madness of the rental housing industry. What matters is simple: what works for you? How do you protect yourself in the ever-changing rental housing industry?

Beyond recently passed legislation, lawyers provide very useful when questions you hadn’t had before suddenly crop up out of nowhere. Your resident has an emotional support monkey? Does that mean you get pet rent? A lawyer can answer fickle questions. That’s what they are there for.

Everyone has their own method to their work, and method in the madness of the rental housing industry. What matters is simple: what works for you? How do you protect yourself in the ever-changing rental housing industry?

Spread the word. Share this post!

Nicole Seidner

Cole Seidner is a copywriter here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design with a focus in creative nonfiction. Her free time is spent taking pictures of her dogs or reading deep dive analysis on movies that she hasn’t seen.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.