Let’s say you’re about to rent a new apartment. Or, perhaps your existing lease is about to expire and it’s time to talk to the landlord about extending it for another year. If you’re on the lookout for a new place to live, your stuff will soon be packed in boxes and you’ll line up a moving truck. You’ve saved for the deposit. You’ve prepared to have your credit checked, but are you ready to have a criminal background check run on you?
When you rent an apartment or house, the landlord can run your credit and he or she can run a background check on you. “But don’t they have to ask my permission to run a background check?” They can ask if it’s okay, but landlords are under no legal obligation to ask for your permission.
Some landlords will look at an applicant and say, “You don’t have a criminal record, do you?” And when the applicant says, “Well, as a matter of fact, I do,” the landlord will say, “Then don’t bother applying. I don’t rent to people with records.” If this happens to you, or if you feel you’ve been discriminated against because of your race or gender, the Federal Trade Commission encourages you to contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to see if you are a victim of discrimination.
Denials After Background Checks
If a landlord denies your application after running a background check on you, then you have certain rights, such as:
- You have the right to notice from the landlord, whether it’s oral, written, or electronic notice.
- You have the right to receive the contact information of the company that supplied your background information to the landlord (this should be in the notice).
- You have the right to correct any inaccurate information, and you have the right to a free copy of your report within 60 days of the landlord’s denial.
For more information about background checks and housing, I recommend reading, “Using Consumer Reports: What Landlords Need to Know.”
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