In my last blog, I shared with you the “DO’S & DON’TS” of tenant screening. ( See the article HERE )

Experienced landlords know that bad tenants cause worse problems. You can preempt problem tenants through a good screening process. However, when you’re screening and talking to a prospective tenant – watch what you say and what you do!  Your best intentions and unintended actions can open oneself to litigation.  There is an art to getting the information you need without exposing yourself to liability. For example:

When screening a tenant, it’s ok to ask their date of birth so that you can conduct a background screening or meet the requirements of a 55 and older living facility or determine if the applicant is over 18. But do not ask outright their age. Asking ones age in most counties is deemed a discriminatory question.  It is also ok to ask how many people or occupants will be staying on the property with you? Key word is people or occupant.  But do not ask how many children – (once you use the “c” word and deny the applicant for legitimate reasons, it may be wrongly attributed to a “no child policy”.

It’s ok to ask do you have any pets. Or to say that we have a no pet policy since pets are not a protected class. But it’s not ok to say we have a no animal policy because disability, comfort and emotional support animals are not considered pets.

It’s smart to ask, why are you moving? When are you looking to move? Can I Ask for References from your former landlords and employer? Has the landlord ever asked you to leave your unit or has the landlord ever filed an eviction against you? The key words are asked to leave or eviction filed and not if you were ever evicted. The evicted question doesn’t provide any real value as most tenants are not evicted. Most tenants leave before they are evicted and if only asked if evicted, they will truthfully say no, having you believe they have been a stellar tenant.

It’s ok to ask if your applicant has a criminal record – a conviction and not just an arrest or charge. But it is not ok to ask if you have even been arrested or charged with a crime, as in our great country, one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  

If you would like to have the “DO’S & DON’TS” of tenant screening in handy business card or in poster form to hang up, or if you would like Octazon to provide a seminar on how best to screen, please contact Marvin Katz of Octazon Management


About Octazon:  Whether you own a few properties or hundreds of properties in Florida, Octazon Management, LLC is here to simplify property ownership and management. We can help you manage any and all of your properties.  When providing management services to Realtors, Octazon will NOT provide the leasing, rentals or sales – so you never have to worry about losing control of your relationship with the owner. 

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This BLOG is to provide helpful information and should not be considered legal advice

Posted by: marvinkatz on April 30, 2015