What kind of rights do tenants have following tenant screening process?
August 2, 2015 10:50 PM   Subscribe

Apartment complex management denied our application based on erroneous information - they now refuse to talk to us about the incident that got our application denied. If CRA's and landlords are protected within tenant screenings, what recourse do tenants have?

This is occurring in Kentucky, if that matters.

To nutshell:

The complex seemed great - the application fee was a bit steep, however, I personally have good rental history, no evictions. My boyfriend applied as the co-applicator and he has no rental history and very little information or marks on his credit. Between the two of us we assumed everything would check out fine.

It took us 3 days of waiting until we personally called the complex to find out what was taking so long. Over the phone, my boyfriend was told he had an eviction on his record and that the complex would have to research further, but that the primary applicant (me) has been approved on her own. Of course, they won't rent to me by myself because they already have the suspicion he'll still live there without being on the lease, which according to the office lady we've had the pleasure.. or torture of dealing with...would be grounds for immediate eviction.

My boyfriend has the exact same first, middle and last name as his father and his father has bad rental history - including an eviction. After looking through court records, we discovered the "eviction" the woman was speaking of. We made it clear to this complex that his father has the same first, middle and last name and that given my boyfriend's lack of rental history, there would be nothing rent related to find attached to his SSN.

After finding the actual court record, it's clear that this is not my boyfriend.... the complex stated his SSN was attached to it - which is also not true. The ages of this defendant also do not match.
This mix up, also adding the fact that we paid so much for this application fee and the nonchalant attitude of this complex and lack of further legwork has made me realize that they're obviously just too busy to care, nevermind the fact that I have been approved and have no bad marks on my record, erroneous or otherwise.

I want the 49 dollars back this complex has stated, on the paper we've signed, that we will get back if we are rejected.

I'm just wondering - is there a way for us to get this information and data, from the complex as to why he was rejected? Aren't there safeholds for both prospective tenants, the CRA that provides the service as well as the landlord in this scenario?

I found this citation under FRCA but maybe since I'm not a legal professional, I'm not fully understanding.

"Upon request, and subject to section 610(a)(1)of the FCRA (ยง 1681h), clearly and accurately disclose to the consumer "all information in the consumer's file at the time of the request." Failure to do so can result in strong regulatory action.

How do we avoid this kind of scenario with the next complex/rental management company we apply with? We can't afford to keep paying application fee after application fee. Are there certain questions we can ask landlords about their screening process? What, if anything, should my boyfriend do about this erroneous information? His dad has confessed he was the one with the eviction, but of course, that does not help us. Would a notarized statement help anything?
posted by camylanded to Law & Government (3 answers total)
This is easy, but maybe a little futile. It's a learning curve. You'll nail the next application if you follow my instructions. Don't worry.

#1 - Write a "Demand Letter" and ask for the $49 fee back, as per their agreement with you. Include a photocopy of whatever you signed (if you don't have that, just reference the doc and and next time GET COPIES of anything you sign.) include information of "Please Make Check Payable To" and also "Send Check To X Address." Google for Demand Letter examples you can copy.

Send this letter Return Receipt and Certified from the post office. $5 to $6, total cost. Keep a copy of the letter and mailing documentation. You may not get a check back, so go ahead and report them to whatever Real Estate State Gov Dept handles this type of thing. But basically, you are likely not getting your $49 back, so chalk it up to lesson learned. (You might get your money back with this letter! No worries!!)


Now that you have documentation of your BF's credit check snafu, include copies of that documentation the next time you apply for an apartment. Say you were rejected previously because BF was confused with a family member with the same name but a different age and SSN so you are providing documentation to avoid confusion. Done.

This is straightforward. $49 is not that much to learn this lesson, even if it burns you up. The truth is your BF will be dealing with this confusion every time he has some sort of credit check. Yeah those guys were shady, but this is a small fee to pay to find out this very very important info.

I hope the investment in a properly worded and mailed Demand Letter gets your $49 back. Does State Law say they must return your application fee if you are rejected? If so, state that in the Demand Letter. You'll have better results.

Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 11:09 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I can't speak to the legalities, but just a heads-up on the next application would probably be enough. I had a roommate who found out during a job application that someone with his extremely common name and same birthdate had a brand new sexual assault conviction, and so on subsequent jobs and the next time we moved we just told them it might come up and to double-check the SSN. I know it did on at least one more job, because they told him about it and confirmed they checked the SSN and didn't have any concerns.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:13 PM on August 2, 2015

My understanding is that legally, landlords can reject you for any reason as long as it's not an illegal reason (i.e. gender, race, religion, etc. etc.) If the application you signed said you'd get the fee back upon rejection, I'd just show up at the management office and demand they cut you a check, and be annoying enough/persistent enough to not leave until they do. I would be surprised if this didn't work -- essentially they sound more lazy/risk averse than they do actively trying to cheat you (cheating people out of application fees does not a good business make), so you just need to bump it up their priority list by being noisy.

For future applications, bringing up the issue upfront, as many folks above have noted, should be good enough at most places. And if it's not, they at least they will hopefully have the opportunity to tell you no before you put in the application and get rejected.
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:27 PM on August 3, 2015

« Older Help finding an illustration of a "saying among...   |   Graduate advisor thinks I'm being taken advantage... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.