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What should I do if my rental application is denied due to a tenant screening report?

Federal law requires a landlord who denies your tenant application, due to information in a tenant screening report, to inform you of that fact.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides you with rights as both a rental applicant and a tenant. This federal law requires a landlord, who rejects or denies your tenant application due to information in a tenant screening report, to inform you of that fact. This notification is called an “adverse action” notice, and it must:

  • Be given in writing, orally, or electronically
  • Provide the name, address, and phone number of the company that provided the report
  • Notify you of your right to a free copy of the report if you request it within 60 days of the adverse action
  • Explain your right to dispute inaccurate information

An adverse action not only includes being denied a rental, it could also include:

  • Requiring a co-signer on the rental agreement or lease
  • Requiring a larger deposit or a higher rent payment than other applicants

Right to dispute errors on your reports

You also have the right to dispute any errors on your tenant screening report and have them corrected, whether the information is inaccurate or outdated. The tenant screening or credit reporting company generally has 30 days to investigate your dispute, however, in some cases, they could have 45 days. Some states impose shorter deadlines.

Steps to take if your rental application is denied

If you’re denied a rental due to a tenant screening report, you can:

  • Try to find out from the landlord what information in the report was a problem to see if you can explain the situation.
  • Ask the landlord for a copy of the tenant screening report. The landlord must give you the name, address, and phone number of the tenant screening company, so you can get a copy from that company.
  • Review your tenant screening report, check for inaccurate or outdated information, and dispute any errors. If your tenant screening report contains a credit report from one of the nationwide credit reporting agencies, you can dispute that error with the credit reporting company or the company that provided the erroneous information or both.

What you can do if your rights were violated

If you believe that your rights have been violated, you may want to contact a lawyer. You may be able to sue for violations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and any state law violations. If you sue under this federal law and win, you may be able to recover damages and your attorney fees. There will be applicable statutes of limitation or deadlines for bringing a lawsuit.

Housing discrimination can take many forms . For example, a landlord that refuses to rent to anyone with a criminal history may be in violation of the Fair Housing Act. If you think a landlord discriminated against you by denying your rental application or by evicting you because of your race, color, national origin (country of origin or ancestry), religion, sex (including sexual orientation or gender identity), familial status (families with children or pregnancy), or disability, you can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development .

If you have a problem with credit or consumer reporting, such as tenant screening, you can submit a complaint online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).