Landlords, property managers blinded to rental risks

Tenant screening is a crucial aspect to landlording, but it is getting harder and harder to know who is who and calculate risk. 

The law, a culture of forgiveness, and limitations in technology can hide many skeletons in the closets of prospective tenants.

Most recently, the COVID-19 Tenant Protection Act of 2020 prescribes that eviction judgments in nonpayment of rent cases filed between March 4, 2020 - January 31, 2021, may be concealed and not publicly available, regardless of the outcome.

Lawmakers took the stance that tenants financially impacted by the pandemic should not be punished twice by being denied housing. This means a tenant who applies for your rental unit may have missed payments for several months, and you may never find out.

Please don’t get us wrong - MT Evictions urges landlords and property managers to keep an open mind and be compassionate towards rental applicants who lost their jobs or were unable to pay rent during these challenging times, but got back on their feet. Yet we also believe in transparency, and that rental housing providers should have access to the data they need to make informed decisions.

Assembly Bill 2819 

This law was meant to protect the privacy, credit, and reputation of tenants involved in eviction lawsuits. It permanently seals an eviction from the public unless the owner is able to demonstrate that a judgment is secured within 60 days of filing the eviction action.

This is often not possible because, with the threat of legal bills, landlords can be forced to settle with the tenant. Many tenants’ attorneys will use demurrers to stretch out the eviction action. All they are is clever smoke and mirrors that are rarely successful, but what these gambits do is drive up the cost of litigation.

National Consumer Assistance Plan

The three major credit bureaus got together to clean house, coming up with a consumer-friendly, cooperative initiative that was designed to make credit reports more accurate, transparent, and understandable. As a result of these reforms, certain blemishes like civil judgments might not show up on a tenant’s credit report.

Our takeaways

Technology is no crutch in tenant screening. With so many red flags that can be concealed, some old-fashioned, personal sleuthing is in order. This includes landlord, personal, and work references. A simple question to a previous landlord can cut to the chase - “would you rent to them again?”.