Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Reported tenant blacklists could have far reaching implications, from social media to immigration; NYC has a bill proposed for regulation

Kim Barer and Jessica Silver-Greenberg have a disturbing story today Wednesday August 17, 2016 on p. A16 of the New York Times, “On tenant blacklist, errors and renters who have little recourse” .
In addition to credit scores and criminal background checks, landlords also use covert lists from “tenant-screening database companies” to screen out applicants who have been sued in housing court, or who have withheld rent to protest living conditions.  And the databases reportedly have lots of errors.

The New York City Council is considering a bill to regulate the use of these lists.  The net effect is to make it almost impossible for the homeless or certain other people to find apartments in the normal commercially run markets.

I have been concerned that “blacklists” could be developed based on social media use, especially the use of “review sites”.  I actually became more concerned about this after 9/11, as I was particularly visible on search engines then as an amateur relative to others;  that is not the case today as modern social media has taken over.  So social media sites cut both ways.

Legitimate tenant-check companies say that prior evictions is a major concern for landlords, but checks must be FCRA-compliant.
Some landlords do work with social service agencies (and DHS) to place arriving refugees into apartments.  Placing asylees already here (but possibly still undocumented or with expired visas) in regular buildings would sound very difficult, especially in conjunction with this story.

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