Reusable Tenant Screening Reports Could Mean Relief For Potential Tenants
In Los Angeles, the difficult and high-priced rental market has one particular stumbling block for many potential renters. Quite often, they are required to pay a potentially exorbitant fee every time that they apply for an apartment or other rental property. With rental prices already sky high, this poses a big challenge for many renters who are not in the top income brackets. It frequently limits their ability to search for the best apartment for them and the times that they can apply which makes it more difficult to secure a rental property at all.
The language of the bill as stated says “This bill would define the term “reusable tenant screening report” to mean a consumer report, as defined, that was prepared within the previous 30 days by a consumer reporting agency at the request and expense of an applicant, is made directly available to the landlord for use in the rental application process or is provided through a third-party website that regularly engages in the business of providing reusable tenant screening reports that are available to landlords and complies with all state and federal laws pertaining to use and disclosure of information contained in a consumer report by a consumer reporting agency, and is available to the landlord at no cost to access or use.”
Additionally, the bill states “The bill would require a reusable tenant screening report to include specified information, including the results of an eviction history check, as prescribed. The bill would prohibit a landlord from charging the applicant a fee for the landlord to access the report or an application screening fee.”
However, the renter’s group behind the bill faced a bit of a defeat when lawmakers amended the bill to make compliance with the law voluntary for landlords rather than mandatory which was a fact that was related to the Los Angeles Times by Mike Blount, who is chief of staff for Assemblymember Christopher M. Ward (D-San Diego) who sponsored the bill.
Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, said, as quoted by The Los Angeles Times, ‘“The watered-down bill is another example of the state Legislature failing renters of California and not responding adequately to the housing crisis we face. It’s the scene out of ‘Mad Max’ for tenants trying to find apartments these days. By the time they put in an application, those apartments are already gone. Quite frankly, we haven’t seen the worst of it yet, because there are still protections in the city of Los Angeles, and if those expire, we’re just going to see an avalanche of evictions and more people trying to find more rental housing.”
According to The Los Angeles Times, Assemblymember Ward said that his thoughts were that making compliance with this law optional would give landlords and renters time to get used to the idea and then, eventually, a conversation could take place about making reusable reports the normal practice in the rental industry.
For now, the bill now goes to the State Assembly for approval and then, if approved, to Governor Gavin Newsom’s office for his signature. Should the bill be signed into law, it would make California the third U.S. state to approve the use of reusable rental screening reports. The states of Washington and Maryland are the first two states to approve a similar measure and adopt the practice.
Such reports would be handled through a third-party company and would be good for a 30 day period.
Assemblymember Ward stated, as quoted by The Los Angeles Times, “It’s becoming sadly more commonplace that renters are paying a lot more application fees and are having to apply for multiple properties because of the limited supply. “It’s really a burden for middle- and lower-income Californians trying to get by, on top of all of the high cost-of-living issues going on today.”
The rental market in Los Angeles has always been one of the most competitive and toughest in the nation and this difficulty makes it dangerous for renters who don’t have the means to find an apartment fast and face the possibility of becoming unhoused due to the lack of affordable rental units.