What Should I Be Charging For Tenant Screening?
Tenant screening is a vital part of the start of a tenancy. Once you have taken an application, it's important to be able to make sure that it is signed and legible so that you can proceed with proper screening.
However, there is a cost associated with tenant screening. Even when you're collecting the information yourself, it takes time to call references and you often have to pay for services to get credit information.
Part of a complete application is the fee required to do the screening. You'll need to collect an application and a fee for each adult applying to live in your rental. How much to charge an applicant is a question that is asked frequently and the answer is referenced in RCW 59.18.257 Editor’s Note: the author is referring to a Washington statute) . Landlords should only be charging your applicants what you are paying to obtain sufficient credit and background information. This applies to either using a tenant screening company or obtaining the information on your own. You may get a request from a tenant for a copy of the screening report. It is important to remember that just because the applicant is paying to have their application processed does not mean that they are entitled to a copy of the report.
See the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 168 1 b) for further information on this particular subject. When advertising your rental unit, it’s a good idea to let applicants know up front what the cost of processing their rental application will be.
Also, make sure that your application states what the application processing fee is and that it is nonrefundable. .
Keep in mind that most screening companies charge a processing fee per applicant, not per application. For further information about RHA’s tenant screening prices and packages please refer to our website www.rhawa.org or call our office (206) 283-0816 or (800) 335-2990.
Disclaimer: The article above contains general information and is not intended to apply to any specific situation. If you need legal advice or have questions about the application of the law in a particular matter, you should consult an attorney.
Reprinted Courtesy of the Rental Housing Association of Washington State. The article was from their issue of “Current,” a monthly newsletter RHAwa.org/tenant-screening