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partners that do not apply to married couples. Nor can a landlord inquire as to the immigration status of the tenant or prospective tenant or require that a tenant or prospective tenant make any statement concerning his or her immigration or citizenship status.
You should establish rental criteria and apply it consistently to all applicants. To find the best and most qualified tenant for your property, certain tenant screening or rental criteria must be established. The successful applicant should: (i) have acceptable and verifiable credit history, (ii) have acceptable and verifiable tenancy history, (iii) have sufficient and verifiable income to meet their present and future financial obligations, and (iv) not pose a risk of harm to the rental property or to persons. Acceptable and verifiable credit history means that the applicant has faithfully honored his or her credit responsibilities in the past. By signing and submitting the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles provided application, consent is provided for you to run and receive a copy of the applicant’s credit history from the credit bureaus. The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles offers several, easy to use and affordable tenant screening services that can handle this for you.
Credit history is reported based upon a person’s social security or taxpayer identification number. To accurately evaluate a person’s credit history, all successful applicants should have either a social security or tax identification number. Lack of a number will not preclude them from applying; however, it is impossible to verify that person’s credit experience. As you review the applicant’s credit report, look for collection accounts, late payments, bankruptcies, fraud alerts, and other derogatory information that sheds insight into the applicant’s past practices. Verify that the former addresses listed on the credit report match the ones provided on the application. Note that the credit bureaus have implemented new rules and procedures over the past several years that limit the reporting of judgments, foreclosures, liens, and other derogatory items unless specific identifying information, i.e. social security number, is included on the court issued document. Since the courts prohibit the inclusion of such identifying information, the credit bureaus no longer report most judgments, liens, and certain derogatory information. Credit reports are an important and necessary tool to use in proper tenant screening; but
understand that credit reports and the information contained therein are limited, and do not tell the whole story. Beware!
Acceptable and verifiable tenancy history means that the applicant has been a good tenant in the past. You certainly do not want to rent to the professional dead beat who has been evicted once or several times in the past. Most landlords will automatically disqualify an applicant who has been evicted in the past. Sometimes, the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles’ tenant screening services can provide an eviction search report that will assist you in determining if your applicant was evicted previously. Be cautious though, as not all evictions appear on the eviction reports. These reports are tools to use, and although they are useful, they certainly are not perfect. In addition to past evictions, you want to see if your prospective applicant has been involved in any other litigation; has he or she been sued? Or has he or she sued a former landlord? These records are available, to a limited extent, through public records searches in each county by accessing your local jurisdiction civil court’s website, or by a third-party provider.
Sufficient and verifiable income to meet their present and future financial obligations means that the applicant can afford the rent that you will be charging as well as be able to handle their car payment, child support, credit card bills, student loans and any other obligation they might have. Consider all legal sources of income. Employment, unemployment, Section 8 or other rental vouchers, Social Security, child support, alimony, and public assistance, are sources of legal income and must be considered. Consider asking to see the original bank statements of the prospect so that you can verify the actual deposits made over the past several months. If your applicant claims to make $4,000 per month, you should see regular monthly deposits of $4,000 per month on the bank statements. Rather than set a minimum multiple of the monthly rent as a minimum qualifier, e.g., three-times the monthly rent, consider a minimum net income requirement after consideration and deduction for all fixed expenses. Note that special rules apply to screening Section 8 voucher recipients, so contact your legal counsel to ensure compliance with these procedures as the rules are in flux.
An applicant must not pose a risk of harm to the APARTMENT AGE • NOVEMBER 2020 83

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