Are Landlord References from Tenants the New Thing?

Are Landlord References from Tenants the New Thing?

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The internet delivered another of its famous surprises this month when one Australian comedian and renter decided to ‘clap back.’ Tom Cashman applied for an apartment and was approved, however, when he asked the real estate agent for the landlord to give him a reference from the previous tenant, that’s where things got dicey. There may be a new trend of applicants asking landlords for references coming around the corner, and heads up: there’s absolutely a right way and a wrong way to handle it.

References as a Standard

People ask for references all the time. Employers ask for them, landlords ask for them, and in a viral video with 2.4 million views, Tom Cashman asked for this as well. After being approved for the apartment, he asked the agent for something he hadn’t ever done before.

“Would the owner provide a landlord reference from a previous tenant?”

He stated in an email.- Developer

The internet delivered another of its famous surprises this month when one Australian comedian and renter decided to ‘clap back.’ Tom Cashman applied for an apartment and was approved, however, when he asked the real estate agent for the landlord to give him a reference from the previous tenant, that’s where things got dicey. There may be a new trend of applicants asking landlords for references coming around the corner, and heads up: there’s absolutely a right way and a wrong way to handle it.

References as a Standard

People ask for references all the time. Employers ask for them, landlords ask for them, and in a viral video with 2.4 million views, Tom Cashman asked for this as well. After being approved for the apartment, he asked the agent for something he hadn’t ever done before.

“Would the owner provide a landlord reference from a previous tenant?”

He stated in an email.- Developer

Tom Cashman continued in the video that it “it occurred to him he’d never done it before,” and encouraged viewers to start doing the same. With 330.4K likes and 2185 comments at the time of writing, most of his viewers agree.

“They asked me for three references to see if I’m a good guy,” Cashman pointed out. “What about them? Are you a good guy? Are you going to fix stuff? Are you going to reply to my e-mails?”

Tom Cashman continued in the video that it “it occurred to him he’d never done it before,” and encouraged viewers to start doing the same. With 330.4K likes and 2185 comments at the time of writing, most of his viewers agree.

“They asked me for three references to see if I’m a good guy,” Cashman pointed out. “What about them? Are you a good guy? Are you going to fix stuff? Are you going to reply to my e-mails?”

Unexpected Response

It’s not entirely unsurprising that renters flocked to someone venting on their side. As the world starts turning more towards the renter side of thing, more want a place to get their feelings out, and when one person shows a way to do it, they all come flocking to the table. It makes sense. It’s also natural that when he made a Part 2, it got the same, though slightly larger, response. The Update received 2.6 million views, 460.5K likes and 8039 comments and as a landlord, some clues on what not to do when someone asks for a reference from a previous tenant.

1.     Don’t Forget Past Tenants

At first, his request for a reference was ignored. After following up, the real estate agent asked to clarify. Cashman did. The landlord was not in contact with previous tenants. Cashman asked, does he not have their emails?

Small requests via email should not be ignored, and it should not be implied that you do not have your tenants’ and previous tenants’ contact information. If you have a moment, then Search your inbox for an email address and say, “sorry, this is new to me, but if you give me some time, I’m sure I can get that for you.” This will get you much farther with an applicant, and they will appreciate the open honesty.

Unexpected Response

It’s not entirely unsurprising that renters flocked to someone venting on their side. As the world starts turning more towards the renter side of thing, more want a place to get their feelings out, and when one person shows a way to do it, they all come flocking to the table. It makes sense. It’s also natural that when he made a Part 2, it got the same, though slightly larger, response. The Update received 2.6 million views, 460.5K likes and 8039 comments and as a landlord, some clues on what not to do when someone asks for a reference from a previous tenant.

1.     Don’t Forget Past Tenants

At first, his request for a reference was ignored. After following up, the real estate agent asked to clarify. Cashman did. The landlord was not in contact with previous tenants. Cashman asked, does he not have their emails?

Small requests via email should not be ignored, and it should not be implied that you do not have your tenants’ and previous tenants’ contact information. If you have a moment, then Search your inbox for an email address and say, “sorry, this is new to me, but if you give me some time, I’m sure I can get that for you.” This will get you much farther with an applicant, and they will appreciate the open honesty.

2. Don’t Retaliate

The agent said the landlord didn’t want to contact them and Cashman’s application was immediately terminated under the implication that it was Cashman’s decision, which it was not. Cashman asked the agent why, when he didn’t ask for his application to be withdrawn.

Terminating an application at the renter’s request should only be done with explicit and written consent. It’s the landlord’s right to terminate any application, but this should be done with caution and tact, considering how it may impact your reputation or worse – lead to legal challenges.

2. Don’t Retaliate

The agent said the landlord didn’t want to contact them and Cashman’s application was immediately terminated under the implication that it was Cashman’s decision, which it was not. Cashman asked the agent why, when he didn’t ask for his application to be withdrawn.

Terminating an application at the renter’s request should only be done with explicit and written consent. It’s the landlord’s right to terminate any application, but this should be done with caution and tact, considering how it may impact your reputation or worse – lead to legal challenges.

3. Don’t Delete the Application

The real estate agent explained that it had to do with a leasing period, which wasn’t an issue when Cashman first applied. Cashman encouraged his audience to ask for references, but to not “be cheeky” about it, like he was. That being said, what happened to Cashman is the wrong way to go about things. Even if it was the first time someone asked for references, being honest is a better route.

Unexpected Response

Cashman isn’t the only one who recommends that tenants ask landlords for recommendations. New start-ups like Whose Your Landlord and OpenIgloo show that renters are getting bolder now and are more willing to speak their minds. These may be warning signs of the turning tide: landlord references could be the new normal.

On the bright side, this does mean you have more room on the internet for positive reviews if places like these websites start to grow. Plus, if you keep handy a small collection of written references from previous tenants, you can begin new relationships with applicants on a positive ground right out the gate. When you start out with a good relationship, the chances that you’ll have smooth sailing with the tenant are so much higher. Now is as good a time as any to consider asking for a review, and maybe just keep it around, rather than deleting an application, should someone by chance request a reference.

3. Don’t Delete the Application

The real estate agent explained that it had to do with a leasing period, which wasn’t an issue when Cashman first applied. Cashman encouraged his audience to ask for references, but to not “be cheeky” about it, like he was. That being said, what happened to Cashman is the wrong way to go about things. Even if it was the first time someone asked for references, being honest is a better route.

Unexpected Response

Cashman isn’t the only one who recommends that tenants ask landlords for recommendations. New start-ups like Whose Your Landlord and OpenIgloo show that renters are getting bolder now and are more willing to speak their minds. These may be warning signs of the turning tide: landlord references could be the new normal.

On the bright side, this does mean you have more room on the internet for positive reviews if places like these websites start to grow. Plus, if you keep handy a small collection of written references from previous tenants, you can begin new relationships with applicants on a positive ground right out the gate. When you start out with a good relationship, the chances that you’ll have smooth sailing with the tenant are so much higher. Now is as good a time as any to consider asking for a review, and maybe just keep it around, rather than deleting an application, should someone by chance request a reference.

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Tenant Screening

New California Tenant Screening Bill Was Just Passed into Law – Here’s What It Means for Landlords and Renters

A new year comes with a multitude of new things, and the rental housing industry is no exception. With the passing of California’s Assembly Bill No. 2559, effective January 1st, 2023, an existing consumer report ordered on a prospective tenant by the landlord whose property they’re applying to rent can now be redefined as a reusable tenant screening report. So, what exactly does this mean?
Simply put, an applicant’s report can be reused for the application process within 30 days of purchasing. The furnished report must comply with all state and federal laws pertaining to the use and disclosure of information used in the tenant screening process and must include all specified information as outlined, including, but not limited to: full legal name, verification of employment/income, previous addresses and last known address, the results of a housing record history check (consistent to applicable law), any records that may exist of the applicant’s criminal history, etc.
The benefits of reusable tenant screening reports are not one-sided.
• First and foremost, the acceptance of a reusable tenant screening report by the landlord is entirely optional, and the landlord must be opted in if proceeding with a reusable tenant screening report. Opting in is not a requirement for the tenant screening process.
• Use of a reusable tenant screening report expedites the tenant screening and application process if the applicant is applying to multiple properties and mitigates the expense of the tenant paying multiple fees per property applied for.
• While the initial cost of obtaining the report from a consumer reporting agency is at the request and expense of the applicant, the option for reuse comes at no additional cost to the landlord or applicant, and the landlord is prohibited from charging an application fee to access or view the report.
• The 30-day reuse period allows for the most up-to-date and current information on the applicant if the timeframe is exceeded while the applicant is still applying to properties. This also gives agency and incentive to the applicant to complete the process in a timely manner.
• Reusable tenant screening reports must still contain all prescribed information required for the application, the same as any consumer report ordered for the purposes of renting a property.
• For convenience, reusable tenant screening reports can be ordered and provided through third-party screening providers such as ApplyConnect, which regularly engages in the business of providing a reusable tenant screening report. Doing so will also include propriety parameters each third-party provider includes in their screening process; for instance, shared reports you receive from ApplyConnect will also include ApplyConnect’s SAFE Screen review customized to your address.

While the list of pros is substantial, existing landlords considering proceeding with reusable tenant screening reports may be wondering – “Are there any cons I should be aware of before opting in and accepting a report this way? And what should I be prepared for?”
Like any bill newly signed into law, any inadvertent effects of AB 2559 remain to be seen. For instance, one could ascertain that a byproduct of prohibiting the charge of additional fees by a landlord who traditionally imposes an application/processing fee to cover any additional expenses other than the cost of obtaining the report means forfeiting the landlord’s autonomy to impose such a fee, and that additional cash flow as well. Landlords who opt in will need to amend their screening process to remove said fees.
Section F of the bill also asserts that if an ordinance, resolution, regulation, administrative action, initiative, or other policy adopted by a city, county, or city and county conflicts with this section, the policy that provides greater protections to applicants shall apply. In some cities and counties, these local laws can prohibit rental owners from considering their applicant’s criminal report, even if it’s on a reusable report. Landlords will also have to accept different formats of the report, as not all screening companies were created the same – one might source their data differently than another with different accuracy rates, primarily use FICO instead of VantageScore in credit reporting and vice versa, etc.
As more landlords and property managers accept reusable tenant screening reports, we’ll be able to see more definitively how and if that changes the leasing process in California. While the provisions in AB 2559 are optional now, it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for legislation that could aim to make it required.

Read More »
Tenant Screening

Can Your Tenant Legally Own An Alligator As An Emotional Support Animal?

When you think of an emotional support animal, what comes to mind? It would be fair to assume the first thought to enter one’s head would be a dog, if not some kind of bipedal mammal — and most likely not a reptilian carnivore with razor-sharp teeth.

In enters WallyGator: a five-and-a-half foot, 70-pound TikTok famous alligator with over 72,600 followers on the platform owned by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native Joie Henney. While it is legal to own alligators in Philadelphia, that isn’t the case in many other states — nor is it likely that the majority of pet gators, if any, qualify as emotional support animals. Or is it?

Since Wally’s uptick in popularity on the internet back in August, “alligators” as a related topic to the Google search query “emotional support animal” has seen a 300% increase in search frequency, most likely for the purposes of curious internet users seeing and reading about WallyGator for themselves. However, with the increase in popularity of keeping various species of reptiles as house pets and the common need for emotional support animals, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that people with legitimate mental health conditions, unique cases of PTSD, or related conditions could be looking into obtaining a support gator of their own.

As we’ve previously covered, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided guidance on how the Fair Housing Act (FHA) interfaces with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regarding emotional support animals. HUD classifies assistance animals into two different categories in order to distinguish their roles from one another: service animals (primarily dogs), and other trained animals that do work, perform tasks, and/or provide therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities. Per HUD’s guidelines, because Wally is not a dog, he, therefore, cannot qualify as a service animal – so, how does HUD define Wally and his role, exactly?

HUD states if the service animal status is not readily apparent, to limit inquiries to two questions: “Is the animal required because of a disability?” and “What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?”, and if the answer to either question is no, then following denial of service animal status under federal, HUD states that the animal can still qualify as a support animal or other assistance animal, depending on what needs to be accommodated.

In Wally’s case, Henney received approval to use him as a support animal after expressing to his doctor he did not want to be medicated for depression following the deaths of several family members and close friends in a short period of time, and more recently, his untimely cancer diagnosis. Even before rescuing and adopting Wally, Henney has worked with and rescued reptiles (particularly alligators) for over thirty years, and his vocation is one he is very passionate about – so it stands to reason his support animal of choice would be one he’s so accustomed to working with.

Because the ADA makes the same distinction that an emotional support animal would only be classified as such due to its mere presence providing comfort as opposed to employing any training to respond to a situation, HUD’s guidelines technically, but clearly grant Wally his status as a legitimate emotional support animal under federal law.

While Wally’s status is protected in the eyes of the law, HUD also states that a housing provider can refuse a reasonable accommodation request for a support or assistance animal if said animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals or would result in substantial physical damage to the property of other which cannot be reduced or eliminated. However, before denying such a request due to a lack of information, a housing provider is encouraged to engage in a “good-faith” conversation with the owner of the support animal to gather information about the animal and mitigate any potential misunderstandings regarding its purpose.

Luckily for most property owners, WallyGator is very much an anomaly, and most folks aren’t scrambling to obtain an emotional support gator of their very own, anyway. Henney himself calls Wally a “very special gator” (he’s trained Wally to understand commands and to keep his mouth closed around other people) and actively discourages others to adopt a pet alligator if they’re not actively predisposed to working with alligators, stating “if you don’t know what you’re doing, you will get bit”.

Check out ApplyConnect’s HUD guidance breakdown: https://www.applyconnect.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Emotional-support-animals_-HUDs-Guidance-cliff-notes-AC-Version.pdf

Read More »

One Reply to “Are Landlord References from Tenants the New Thing?”

  1. Since tenants visit your rental to see the condition of the apartment and building, landlords should request to visit the premises where the applicant lives. As they have treated their current place is just like they will be very likely to treat yours. If its pre-hoarding cluttered, holes in the walls or under-furnished with cabinet doors falling off the hinges and the welcoming aroma of cat pee greeting you at the door, don’t expect much different.

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One Reply to “Are Landlord References from Tenants the New Thing?”

  1. Since tenants visit your rental to see the condition of the apartment and building, landlords should request to visit the premises where the applicant lives. As they have treated their current place is just like they will be very likely to treat yours. If its pre-hoarding cluttered, holes in the walls or under-furnished with cabinet doors falling off the hinges and the welcoming aroma of cat pee greeting you at the door, don’t expect much different.

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Tenant Screening

New California Tenant Screening Bill Was Just Passed into Law – Here’s What It Means for Landlords and Renters

A new year comes with a multitude of new things, and the rental housing industry is no exception. With the passing of California’s Assembly Bill No. 2559, effective January 1st, 2023, an existing consumer report ordered on a prospective tenant by the landlord whose property they’re applying to rent can now be redefined as a reusable tenant screening report. So, what exactly does this mean?
Simply put, an applicant’s report can be reused for the application process within 30 days of purchasing. The furnished report must comply with all state and federal laws pertaining to the use and disclosure of information used in the tenant screening process and must include all specified information as outlined, including, but not limited to: full legal name, verification of employment/income, previous addresses and last known address, the results of a housing record history check (consistent to applicable law), any records that may exist of the applicant’s criminal history, etc.
The benefits of reusable tenant screening reports are not one-sided.
• First and foremost, the acceptance of a reusable tenant screening report by the landlord is entirely optional, and the landlord must be opted in if proceeding with a reusable tenant screening report. Opting in is not a requirement for the tenant screening process.
• Use of a reusable tenant screening report expedites the tenant screening and application process if the applicant is applying to multiple properties and mitigates the expense of the tenant paying multiple fees per property applied for.
• While the initial cost of obtaining the report from a consumer reporting agency is at the request and expense of the applicant, the option for reuse comes at no additional cost to the landlord or applicant, and the landlord is prohibited from charging an application fee to access or view the report.
• The 30-day reuse period allows for the most up-to-date and current information on the applicant if the timeframe is exceeded while the applicant is still applying to properties. This also gives agency and incentive to the applicant to complete the process in a timely manner.
• Reusable tenant screening reports must still contain all prescribed information required for the application, the same as any consumer report ordered for the purposes of renting a property.
• For convenience, reusable tenant screening reports can be ordered and provided through third-party screening providers such as ApplyConnect, which regularly engages in the business of providing a reusable tenant screening report. Doing so will also include propriety parameters each third-party provider includes in their screening process; for instance, shared reports you receive from ApplyConnect will also include ApplyConnect’s SAFE Screen review customized to your address.

While the list of pros is substantial, existing landlords considering proceeding with reusable tenant screening reports may be wondering – “Are there any cons I should be aware of before opting in and accepting a report this way? And what should I be prepared for?”
Like any bill newly signed into law, any inadvertent effects of AB 2559 remain to be seen. For instance, one could ascertain that a byproduct of prohibiting the charge of additional fees by a landlord who traditionally imposes an application/processing fee to cover any additional expenses other than the cost of obtaining the report means forfeiting the landlord’s autonomy to impose such a fee, and that additional cash flow as well. Landlords who opt in will need to amend their screening process to remove said fees.
Section F of the bill also asserts that if an ordinance, resolution, regulation, administrative action, initiative, or other policy adopted by a city, county, or city and county conflicts with this section, the policy that provides greater protections to applicants shall apply. In some cities and counties, these local laws can prohibit rental owners from considering their applicant’s criminal report, even if it’s on a reusable report. Landlords will also have to accept different formats of the report, as not all screening companies were created the same – one might source their data differently than another with different accuracy rates, primarily use FICO instead of VantageScore in credit reporting and vice versa, etc.
As more landlords and property managers accept reusable tenant screening reports, we’ll be able to see more definitively how and if that changes the leasing process in California. While the provisions in AB 2559 are optional now, it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for legislation that could aim to make it required.

Read More »
Tenant Screening

Can Your Tenant Legally Own An Alligator As An Emotional Support Animal?

When you think of an emotional support animal, what comes to mind? It would be fair to assume the first thought to enter one’s head would be a dog, if not some kind of bipedal mammal — and most likely not a reptilian carnivore with razor-sharp teeth.

In enters WallyGator: a five-and-a-half foot, 70-pound TikTok famous alligator with over 72,600 followers on the platform owned by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native Joie Henney. While it is legal to own alligators in Philadelphia, that isn’t the case in many other states — nor is it likely that the majority of pet gators, if any, qualify as emotional support animals. Or is it?

Since Wally’s uptick in popularity on the internet back in August, “alligators” as a related topic to the Google search query “emotional support animal” has seen a 300% increase in search frequency, most likely for the purposes of curious internet users seeing and reading about WallyGator for themselves. However, with the increase in popularity of keeping various species of reptiles as house pets and the common need for emotional support animals, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that people with legitimate mental health conditions, unique cases of PTSD, or related conditions could be looking into obtaining a support gator of their own.

As we’ve previously covered, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided guidance on how the Fair Housing Act (FHA) interfaces with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regarding emotional support animals. HUD classifies assistance animals into two different categories in order to distinguish their roles from one another: service animals (primarily dogs), and other trained animals that do work, perform tasks, and/or provide therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities. Per HUD’s guidelines, because Wally is not a dog, he, therefore, cannot qualify as a service animal – so, how does HUD define Wally and his role, exactly?

HUD states if the service animal status is not readily apparent, to limit inquiries to two questions: “Is the animal required because of a disability?” and “What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?”, and if the answer to either question is no, then following denial of service animal status under federal, HUD states that the animal can still qualify as a support animal or other assistance animal, depending on what needs to be accommodated.

In Wally’s case, Henney received approval to use him as a support animal after expressing to his doctor he did not want to be medicated for depression following the deaths of several family members and close friends in a short period of time, and more recently, his untimely cancer diagnosis. Even before rescuing and adopting Wally, Henney has worked with and rescued reptiles (particularly alligators) for over thirty years, and his vocation is one he is very passionate about – so it stands to reason his support animal of choice would be one he’s so accustomed to working with.

Because the ADA makes the same distinction that an emotional support animal would only be classified as such due to its mere presence providing comfort as opposed to employing any training to respond to a situation, HUD’s guidelines technically, but clearly grant Wally his status as a legitimate emotional support animal under federal law.

While Wally’s status is protected in the eyes of the law, HUD also states that a housing provider can refuse a reasonable accommodation request for a support or assistance animal if said animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals or would result in substantial physical damage to the property of other which cannot be reduced or eliminated. However, before denying such a request due to a lack of information, a housing provider is encouraged to engage in a “good-faith” conversation with the owner of the support animal to gather information about the animal and mitigate any potential misunderstandings regarding its purpose.

Luckily for most property owners, WallyGator is very much an anomaly, and most folks aren’t scrambling to obtain an emotional support gator of their very own, anyway. Henney himself calls Wally a “very special gator” (he’s trained Wally to understand commands and to keep his mouth closed around other people) and actively discourages others to adopt a pet alligator if they’re not actively predisposed to working with alligators, stating “if you don’t know what you’re doing, you will get bit”.

Check out ApplyConnect’s HUD guidance breakdown: https://www.applyconnect.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Emotional-support-animals_-HUDs-Guidance-cliff-notes-AC-Version.pdf

Read More »

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Get Started with ApplyConnect!

The nation’s most trusted tenant screening for real estate agents, landlords, and property managers. No cost background checks available 24/7.

©2018 ApplyConnect. All rights reserved

ApplyConnect marks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of applyconnect.com. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.