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Guide to Handling Tenant Screening Errors

Apartment & Housing Background Check & Credit Report Errors

Denied Housing or Apartment Due to Inaccurate Background Check or Credit Report?

In today’s world if you are applying for an apartment or rental home you should expect that you will have to agree to having a consumer report or tenant screening report performed. Tenant screening reports are prepared by third-party companies that search court records – many times through large national databases of information – to provide a landlord with a report on your past criminal, credit, and rental history. Landlords justify their request for these reports based on a desire to know if their potential tenant has previous issues with a landlord or trouble paying their bills. Thus, the potential tenant’s ability to rent a residence depends on the accuracy of the tenant screening report.

Many times, these tenant screening reports contain inaccuracies that can prevent you from renting the apartment that you want.

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Tenant Screening Errors

Tenant screening generally includes a criminal history report. Unfortunately, errors on these reports happen often and can cause your rental application to be denied. Some of the most common errors on tenant screening reports are mixing or mis-matching information and failing to provide complete and up to date information. Mixing or mis-matching your information occurs when the tenant screening company does not use full and complete personal identifying information to match you to the records they are searching.

Failing to provide complete and current information happens when the tenant screening company does not look at the full record and therefore reports the wrong charge or disposition of a criminal case or eviction.

Apartment Criminal Background Checks and Mixed Files

Mixed files are the most common cause of incorrect criminal history on background checks for apartments and rental properties. Mixed files happen when the criminal history that belongs to another individual ends up on your background check. Sadly, this can happen due to having the same or similar name to someone else.

This type of tenant background check error can be the most damaging. For example, if your background check wrongfully says you are on the sex offender registry this can not only affect your ability to get an apartment but it can also ruin your reputation. That is why it is important for tenant screening companies to be sure that the information they provide to landlords is accurate and up-to-date.

What Is In A Background Check For An Apartment?

Housing and apartment background checks generally include the following:

  • Criminal History
  • Employment Verification
  • Credit Check
  • Rental History
  • Evictions

Tenant reports can contain more information depending on what the landlord requests from the tenant screening company.

Problems With Instant Tenant Screening Reports

There are many companies that landlords use for screening tenants. Some offer instant verification services. These reports can be compiled within 24 hours. This sounds great because you and the landlord can quickly get answers. The problem is that with instant results, there are more inaccuracies. Similar names and addresses can show up on your report.  They can contain the criminal history, rental history, or bad credit of another person. These mixed files can result in denial of housing or an apartment.

The Law Covering Tenant Screening Reports

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) covers the tenant screening companies and the reports they sell. Under the FCRA, the companies that sell tenant screening reports are consumer reporting agencies. The FCRA says that consumer reporting agencies must have policies and procedures to assure the maximum possible accuracy of the reports that they sell.

The presence of mixed or mismatched information or information that is not full, current, or complete on a tenant screening report shows that the tenant screening company did not assure maximum possible accuracy.

Your Rights Under the FCRA

If you have been the victim of an inaccurate tenant screening report, there are remedies available to you under the FCRA. The FCRA allows you to bring a lawsuit to get your tenant screening report corrected. Additionally, you may be entitled to recover money damages for the loss or delay in your rental opportunity and the emotional upset that was caused by the inaccurate tenant screening report.

Attorney’s Fees Under The FCRA

Under the FCRA, you do not have to pay attorney’s fees and costs. The FCRA requires the tenant screening company to pay your attorney’s fees and costs. Therefore, regardless of the outcome, you will not have to pay attorney’s and costs to bring a lawsuit if your rights are violated under the FCRA.

Denied Housing, Apartment or Rental Terms Have Changed

You must be notified by the landlord of adverse action. It can happen orally or in writing. This means if they change leasing terms or deny housing due to the background check they must let you know.

Possible Adverse Action Due to Tenant Screening Reports

  • Application Denial
  • Co-signer Required
  • Higher deposit than what they usually charge
  • Higher rent than what they usually charge

Dispute Tenant Screening Report Errors

Landlords Must Provide You With The Following After Taking "Adverse Action"

  • Name, address, phone of the reporting agency that supplied the background check and credit report
  • A statement that the company that supplied the report is not responsible for the decision to take adverse action
  • A summary of your rights and your right to dispute the information in your reports
  • Notify you of your right to get free copy of your report from the company that provided it within 60 days

Disputing Background Checks and Credit Reports

You have the right to dispute errors on background checks and credit reports. Once you file a dispute with the reporting agency, they have 30 days to look into it and correct errors on your reports. Errors on an apartment background checks are more common than you might think. We have helped thousands of clients that were denied an apartment or rental housing due to errors on the background check.

You Have The Right to Sue Background Check Companies and Credit Reporting Agencies

Denied housing or an apartment due to errors on a background check? You may have a case against the reporting agency. Mistakes on background checks can be devastating. Waiting 30 days for a tenant screening company to fix their errors can be difficult. When you need housing, you don’t always have 30 days to wait.

Did your background check have errors that caused you to be denied housing or an apartment?

If you feel that inaccuracies on your tenant screening report have caused you to lose or be delayed in a rental opportunity, fill out the form on this page or call us now at 1-877-735-8600 to get a free case review now. The FCRA has a statute of limitations which may bar your claims if you delay in seeking legal help.

If you have a case, there is no out of pocket cost to you. We only get paid when we win money for you.

Our team of consumer protection lawyers has your back and are ready to fight for you. We have helped thousands of consumers like you. Get the compensation you deserve and get your background check and credit reports corrected.

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If you feel your rights under the FCRA have been violated by a background check company, landlord, or property managers, call 1-877-735-8600 to speak to our legal team now.

Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C.








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