The tenant screening process is designed to protect landlords against careless or fraudulent tenants. Unfortunately, the screenings sometimes report misleading information about a tenant, particularly if the tenant’s previous situation contained a tumultuous landlord-tenant relationship. Sometimes, a tenant may have to dispute the findings of a tenant screening when they do not properly reflect the tenant’s rental background. Below is advice on how to dispute the findings of a tenant screening.
Determine What to Dispute
A tenant screening can contain a variety of facts about a tenant. In addition to basic information such as social security number, bankruptcies and sex offender information, a tenant screening can also contain information on court liens and judgments and credit report. The landlord chooses what information he wants to know about a potential future tenant and requests that information from a reporting agency. This means that a tenant must learn what the landlord requested to be reported and what it was that induced his decision to refuse the tenant.
The best way to obtain this information is to simply ask the landlord. As the report contains private information about the tenant, the tenant is somewhat entitled to knowing the information in the report. Another way is for a tenant to request a report on himself to see what is being reported. However, this option requires the tenant to pay for a report.
Once you know what information is contained in the report and have determined what is causing the landlord to refuse to rent you the residence, you should gather the documentation you have to support your arguments. For example, if the landlord is put off by a previous bankruptcy, gather the documents to show that the bankruptcy is not truly bad, such as that it has been discharged, was long ago, or that it was related to a business and not you personally. These documents will more than enable you to counteract the tenant findings.
Talk to the Landlord
If you can explain the negative contents of the tenant screening and you are still interested in the landlord’s residence, provided it is still available, the first place to start is to approach the landlord with your documentation to discuss the report. Be calm and assertive and, more importantly, do not be negative or nasty about your previous landlord. Explain why the report says what it does and that it does not make you a bad tenant, using your documentation as evidence.
Approach the Reporting Agency
If your efforts to speak with the landlord fail, you should then approach the agency that has created the information in the report. This agency is not the one creating the report, as that agency is just gathering the information and putting it in one place. Rather, contact the places that contain the original information, such as the credit agency or previous landlord or the court. Contact them for the documents they have that they are relying on in their report and ask them about their dispute process. After receiving and reviewing the report, follow the individual agency’s guidelines for disputing their findings. This process may take several months.
Once you have received a favorable disposition in your dispute, contact reporting agencies to make sure that the changes are reflected in any future report a landlord may request.