Prospective renters often pay a screening fee for each property they apply to. This makes searching for a place to rent expensive and difficult for low-income renters.
Over time, this has prompted several advocates to push for the use of reusable screening reports. What’s more, several states such as Washington and Maryland have enacted legislation that governs its use.
What exactly is a comprehensive reusable tenant screening report and what do rental owners need to know about it? Should property owners allow it or should applicants take advantage of it? Not to worry, we will discuss the answers to these questions in detail.
Comprehensive Reusable Tenant Screening Reports Explained
The Washington State Legislature defines a reusable tenant screening report as “a report prepared within the previous 30 days by a consumer reporting agency at the request and expense of a prospective tenant and made directly available to a prospective landlord at no charge for use in the rental application process”.
A comprehensive reusable report must contain the following:
- A credit report
- A criminal history check in all jurisdictions indicated as prior residence over the past 7 years
- An eviction history over the previous 7 years
- Income and employment verification
- Current address and rental history
Applicants can use this report as many times as they want within 30 days. After then, the comprehensive reusable report is no longer valid and the applicants have to request a new one.
The Laws on The Use of Comprehensive Reusable Tenant Screening Reports
Property owners have the right to accept or reject the use of comprehensive reusable tenant screening reports. However, there are certain laws that property owners should be aware of.
The property owners must notify applicants whether they accept comprehensive reusable tenant screening reports.
Property owners can do it in several ways including:
- A statement on the listing
- A notice on the property manager’s website
- On the rental application page
- Any other calculated manner to notify the renter
Property owners who run a website must include a notification statement on their homepage.
Charging Applicants for Application Fees
If a rental owner accepts reusable reports, they can’t charge the applicant for:
- Application fees
- Fees to access the report
- Fees for additional background checks
However, if the report is not comprehensive or valid it will not be eligible for protection. In that case, the property owner can charge the applicant for additional screening.
Certifying the Comprehensive Reusable Tenant Screening Report
A property owner may require a prospective renter to certify the reusable tenant screening report. This is to ensure that there have not been any changes to the applicant’s name, address, bankruptcy status, criminal history, or eviction history to hide unfavorable reports.
Doing so allows the property owner to use the document in any case proceedings in the event of discovering an altercation of information.
Rejecting an Applicant
Moreover, property owners can only reject applicants before the execution of the lease agreement. This holds true even after an owner discovers that the report has been tampered with.
Should Property Owners Accept Reusable Reports?
Contrary to common belief, the report that a property owner receives does not come from the applicant. The applicants cannot bring the report from one owner to the other. Instead, it is directly made available from the tenant screening company to the property owner at the request of the applicant.
That way, it is impossible for an applicant to tamper with the report. This makes reusable reports as reliable and secure as getting them yourself. A reusable tenant screening report is also only valid for 30 days to ensure that the information is up to date.
Furthermore, allowing reusable reports does not affect the property owner’s ability to perform additional screenings. It only prevents them from charging fees to the applicants.
Another advantage of the reusable tenant screening report is that it makes your rental property more accessible to renters who are using such reports in applying for a lease. Additionally, you can save time and effort in collecting fees and purchasing these reports yourself.
How Can Landlords Access These Reports?
Accessing a comprehensive reusable tenant screening report is very straightforward. The applicant will give you login details to a secure website on which you can access their report.
Applicants request these reports from reputable companies such as Moco Incorporated.
A comprehensive reusable tenant screening report contains all the information property owners need to screen applicants. The only difference is that it is requested by the applicant rather than the property owner. Accepting such reports helps renters reduce the cost of finding a rental property and helps you save time from having to purchase them yourself.