Understanding how to properly screen an applicant is a major part of Marin County property management. You might feel you have a good sense of people and when you show a residence, the prospective tenants like it and you like them, so you give them an application. It probably seems easy enough to run a credit check and approve them for tenancy. However, that’s not all you should do. The screening process with an applicant is just as much about what not to do as it is about what you should do. Remember that within the process, we have fair housing restrictions that we must follow.
Bay Area Rental Management: Profiling
Within those restrictions, we have linguistic profiling and name profiling. So when you’re screening an applicant, you have to make sure you don’t form an opinion about their language skills or the sound of their name. It’s prohibited to form a positive or negative opinion of a person based on those things.
Marin County Rental Management: Protected Classes
In California, we have nine protected classes of people: marital status, sexual orientation, age, ancestry, source of income, medical condition, sex, gender, and genetic information. At the federal level, there are seven protected classes: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. Remember that these federal protections go in all jurisdictions and apply in all states.
Bay Area Property Management: Behavioral Discrimination
In California, we also have two types of discrimination that are considered behavioral. These are not protected classes. Arbitrary discrimination is discriminating based upon how people look and their personal appearance. This could include tattoos, piercings, or how their hair is done. There is also perception and association, which prohibits the discrimination against someone who is perceived to be part of a protected class.
Through these fair housing laws, you cannot collect certain information from people when you’re screening them. However, it is okay to collect the information once a person has been approved. So the things you don’t want to do when screening are, don’t ask if they have children and if they’re married. Don’t ask how old they are and don’t ask about disabilities. Don’t ask if or where an applicant works. Instead, keep a standard list of questions that you ask everyone. That includes a person’s name, the type of property they are looking for, how many bedrooms they want, when they want to move, what kind of amenities they need, and whether they prefer an upstairs or downstairs unit. You can ask how many people will occupy the home.
This is an overview of how to properly screen. Pay attention to fair housing restrictions in California and at the federal level. If you have any questions about Bay Area property management, please contact us at Bayside Property Management.