Must Know Regulations For Landlords 2020

Now is a good time to take a pause and make certain you are ready for 2020 by educating yourself on all must know regulations for landlords in 2020, including the latest changes to landlord ordinances around the country. Here’s what you need to know for 2020.

Criminal background checks may be banned in some cities.

Oakland, California has become the first city to pass legislation that bans landlords from conducting criminal investigations into the background of applicants. The Fair Chance Housing Ordinance prevents landlords from denying tenants based on criminal history. If this measure passes in its final vote, set for February 4th, landlords in Oakland will not be allowed to ask or investigate a tenant’s prior criminal history.

Supporters of the ordinance say that criminal background checks prevent residents who have served prison sentences from reintegrating back into society. However, landlord groups have expressed concern over the safety of their tenants.

The trend of changing legislation for criminal background checks is not limited to Oakland. In both Cook County, Illinois and Austin, Texas, legislation is being considered to require that employers hold off on the criminal background check until later in the hiring process.

It’s too early to tell if these are going to be stand-alone cases, or if other local governments will begin looking at similar regulations on criminal background checks for both landlords and employers.

Changes to security deposit limits.

In Cincinnati, lawmakers have passed a law requiring landlords to offer other options aside from security deposits. In place of requiring a security deposit, a landlord must offer the following:

  • The tenant may take out rental security insurance at a low premium.
  • The tenant can pay the deposit in installments.
  • They may pay a reduced security deposit. The maximum being half of the first month’s rent.

The idea behind these changes is to prevent residents’ barriers to renting. Landlord groups are concerned that these changes might make it difficult to recoup losses. Keep an eye out for other cities to follow Cincinnati’s lead.

Lead paint disclosure laws.

If you own a property older than 1978, you need to disclose the chance of lead poisoning to your tenants before they sign your lease. Lead poisoning causes lifelong disabilities in children. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can impose hefty fines on landlords that don’t disclose lead information. You must follow the EPA’s requirements for what needs to be reported to tenants..

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Although not new, it’s important to remember the FCRA requires that when you collect information on your tenants, you must keep that information private and secure. Also, when running background checks or calling previous landlords or employers, you need to first get the written permission from your prospective tenant.

To be FCRA compliant, you also must provide an adverse action letter when you deny housing to an applicant. This is a generic form that lets them know they were rejected and that they have the right to receive a copy of their background check from the consumer reporting agency.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA).

The FHA has been preventing discrimination since 1968. Landlords must not discriminate against applicants based on religion, sex, race, handicap, family status, and national origin. It’s your responsibility to be sure you comply with this law.

State and federal laws

Every state has its own tenant and landlord laws. When you rent a property to your tenant, you’ve entered a business relationship that is governed by your lease agreement and the state and federal laws. Every state has its own set of laws that can be updated at any time. Some of the regulations may include security deposit maximums, late fees, eviction notices, pet deposits, and notice of rent increases.

It’s important to consult an attorney or other expert to be sure you comply with your local and federal laws. This will help prevent any legal battles with your tenants.

Consult the experts
Being a landlord can be rewarding, but it’s not without hard work. Don’t go at it on your own, let the experts help.

ACUTRAQ provides you with the information you need to make intelligent decisions while complying with all local and federal laws.

We are a full-service background screening service, providing screening solutions to property management companies, landlords, nonprofits, and employers for over 20 years.  Give us a call today, or request one below.

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