Post Screening Denial Mayhem and How to Avoid it

You’re a responsible landlord.  You hate conflict so you dot your i’s and cross your t’s so that you can’t be reprimanded for any wrong doing.  You used proper and consistent procedures when screening your prospective tenants.  You compiled a denial letter to your tenant explaining the key reasons in their credit report that you were unable to accept their application and you provided them the contact info to the credit bureau that the report was compiled from.

But after receiving the denial letter, the applicant gives you a call and is furious.  They explain that there is no way the information is accurate and are concerned there may be fraud or simply incorrect information.  The tenant demands that you personally resolve the issue.  The tenant goes further still and claims it is discrimination on your part if you don’t verify the information.

What do you do???

This is why you wrote the denial letter with the Bureau’s address and phone number.  This dialogue is unnecessary and even legally unsound.  Any incorrect or disputed information must be taken up directly by the tenant with the bureau the report was generated from.  No other action needs to be taken on your part.  You simply made the most educated decision you could based on the information available to you.  The accuracy of that information is not your liability.  In this situation, simply inform the tenant to contact the bureau included in the denial letter.

The tenant will then inform the Bureau of the disputed information.  After this, the bureau will then begin a dialogue with the furnisher of the disputed information.  If the furnisher sees incorrect information, they then will inform the bureau, who will then update the information on their end.  OK. So after all of that…

Now the tenant comes back to you and demands that you rent to them.  You still have the same report as last time.  You will need to run a new tenant screening report in order to get the updated information from the bureau.  If you’re worried about paying for the new report, you should charge the tenant a new application fee.  This is considered to be a new application, even in the unlikely event that the unit they originally applied for is still vacant.

If the new report shows that the tenant is in good credit standing and meets your criteria to rent then congratulations, the vacancy is filled and everybody is happy!

** Always be sure to follow all proper procedures when handling a tenant.  A comprehensive view of FCRA law and procedures can be found here.  Also be sure to follow all fair housing laws and not to discriminate based on race, gender, minority group, etc. Please also observe local ordinances which may supersede some federal laws. **

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