Will Background Check Errors Deny You a Home?

A background check can determine if you can get credit, a job, or even a place to live. That’s why the law requires businesses that provide these reports have reasonable procedures to ensure the information they collect and share about you is accurate.

In a recent lawsuit, the FTC says a company named RealPage did not meet this requirement. RealPage sells tenant screening reports to landlords and property managers. The FTC says the company didn’t ensure criminal history information about prospective tenants was correct, and that landlords may have denied people housing because of this failure.

If you’re about to start or renew your lease:

  • Go to annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. That way, you can fix any errors before a landlord sees them.
  • Give the landlord your correct full name and date of birth. This helps make sure he or she gets information on the right person.
  • If you have a criminal history or previous housing court actions, gather any paperwork showing how the action was resolved.

If a landlord tells you not to apply because you have a criminal record, that could be discrimination. If that happens, or if you think a landlord discriminated against you for another reason — such as your race or gender — contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development and report it to the FTC.

For more information on background checks, read Renting an apartment? Be prepared for a background check. And learn more here and here about the FTC’s recent cases protecting people just trying to find a place to live.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.