Calif.’S Reusable Tenant Screening Bill Headed For Governor’s Desk

Calif.’S Reusable Tenant Screening Bill

A bill seeking to lower rental application costs by standardizing reusable tenant screening reports is headed to the governor’s desk after receiving bipartisan support from the California Assembly.

Assembly Bill 2559 allows renters to purchase their own reusable credit reports and submit them to multiple landlords rather than paying over and over for a background check when applying to lease an apartment or home.

The Assembly voted Tuesday, Aug. 23, to support a Senate amendment making it voluntary for landlords to accept tenant-provided background checks. The state Senate voted 31-7 in support of the bill on Monday.

Currently, tenants pay $25 to $55 per application to cover background screening that include credit and criminal record checks, eviction history and employment verification. Landlords typically require a separate payment each time a tenant applies. And tenants competing in the tightest rental market in 22 year often are forced to submit more applications to secure a lease.

“Application fees for rental housing create additional cost burdens for renters seeking new housing, often resulting in people of color taking on a greater financial burden due to the application fees,” said a statement from the bill’s author, Assemblymember Christopher Ward, D-San Diego.

AB 2559 would standardize reusable screening reports that can be used multiple times within a 30-day window.

Landlords still will be free to require separate reports from their own providers. But those who accept the reports can receive them from a third-party company, ensuring the tenant is unable to tamper with its contents.

Ward said the measure was amended to make acceptance voluntary after the California Apartment Association objected to the original working. The CAA neither supported or opposed the measure after the revision.

“We want to introduce a new model out there and see how it takes,” Ward told the Southern California News Group recently. Ward believes the bill will make it easier for tenants to ask prospective landlords to accept their reusable reports and save them money.

“It is identical and in scope to the existing parameters for traditional tenant screening reports,” he said. “The same third-party credit agencies would then be able to develop a document under the parameters of the statute that would be reusable for up to 30 days.”

The measure is similar to laws already on the books in the states of Washington and Maryland.