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 Legal
LEGAL CORNER
By Stephen C. Duringer, Esq. The Duringer Law Group, PLC
Question. Given all the drama of the last few months, I really understand the importance of tenant screening. Could you please provide information on the best resident screening practices that you and your clients use?
Jeff W., Beverly Hills
Answer. Proper tenant screening begins with a rental application you can get online from the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, which needs to be completed, and signed by every adult applicant. Verify that the application is complete and legible, photocopy the prospect’s government issued photo identification, e.g., driver’s license, identification card, or passport, and keep the photocopy with your file. Verify that the signature on the application matches the identification, and the picture matches the person standing in front of you.
Ensure that you comply with your state and federal fair housing rules. A landlord cannot refuse to rent to a tenant or engage in any other type of discrimination based on group characteristics specified by law that are not closely related to the landlord’s business needs. Race and religion are examples of group characteristics specified by law. Arbitrary discrimination based on any personal characteristic is also prohibited. Under most state and federal laws, it is unlawful for a landlord, managing agent, real estate broker, or salesperson
to discriminate against a person or harass a person because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth or medical condition related to them, as well as gender and perception of gender), sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, or disability. Many states also prohibit discrimination based on a person’s medical condition or mental or physical disability; or personal characteristics, such as a person’s physical appearance or sexual orientation that are not related to the responsibilities of a tenant; or a perception of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability or medical condition, or a perception that a person is associated with another person who may have any of these characteristics.
Housing providers cannot use a financial or income standard for persons who want to live together and combine their incomes that is different from the landlord’s standard for married persons who combine their incomes. In the case of a government rent subsidy, a landlord who is assessing a potential tenant’s eligibility for a rental unit must use a financial or income standard that is based on the portion of rent that the tenant would pay. A landlord cannot apply rules, regulations or policies to unmarried couples who are registered domestic
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    This article is presented in a general nature to address typical landlord tenant legal issues. Specific inquiries regarding a specific situation should be addressed to your attorney. Stephen C. Duringer is the founder of The Duringer Law Group, PLC, one of the largest and most experienced landlord tenant law firms in the country. The firm may be reached at (714) 279-1100 or (800) 829-6994. Please visit www.DuringerLaw.com for more information
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