The decision of whether or not to rent out a property to a given prospective tenant can be a very big one for a landlord. It is a decision that could potentially have significant impacts on the landlord, the prospective tenant and other tenants in the landlord’s building. Thus, having the right information when making this decision can be very important for a landlord.

There are many different methods landlords use to acquire information to make informed decisions regarding prospective tenants. One is asking prospective tenants screening questions.

It is important for landlords to exercise care when it comes to what screening questions they ask prospective tenants. There are multiple reasons for this.

One is that the type of questions they ask will strongly influence the type of information they get. Thus, a landlord will want to make sure that the questions they are asking are in alignment with the type of information they want to have when making a decision regarding a prospective tenant.

The other is that exercising proper care when it comes to screening questions could help avoid certain legal problems. How could legal problems arise in connection to screening questions? Well, it has to do with the fact that there are certain things that a landlord is generally not allowed, under law, to deny a prospective tenant a rental arrangement for. These things include the prospective tenant’s familial status, disability status, sex, gender, national origin, religion, color and race. Thus, it is important for landlords to not ask screening questions that could be interpreted to mean that they are considering these prohibited factors in their leasing decisions. Asking wrongfully discriminatory screening questions to a prospective tenant could cause a landlord to face legal action.

Real estate law attorneys can provide landlords with guidance when it comes to screening questions and other aspects of screening prospective tenants.

Source: FindLaw, “Ten Landlord Legal Mistakes to Avoid,” Accessed March 18, 2015

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