What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

Posted on: February 13, 2019 by Castelblanco Law Group, APLC
Picture of a Rent Application and Laptop

Are you looking for a new apartment? Have you been asked to fill out an application for an apartment you want to rent? If so, it’s important to read carefully, and to understand what information Landlords are allowed to investigate under California Law, and what is prohibited, so that you can make sure you know what you’re applying for. This article explains some of the important aspects of Consumer Reports and rental applications, so that you can be better informed.

Important Details Regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, allows a landlord to use consumer reports to evaluate rental applications – as long as they follow the provisions of the act. What does that mean?

  1. The FCRA is designed to protect the privacy of consumer report information and to guarantee that the information supplied by consumer reporting agencies is accurate and true.
  2. The FCRA requires landlords who deny a rental application based on information in an applicant’s consumer report to provide the applicant with notice of that action.
  3. If the Landlord considers any consumer report as a factor in their decision to deny a rental application, they must still provide notice of using that consumer report, even if the decision was based on another reason for denial.

What is a Consumer Report?

A consumer report contains information regarding an applicant’s credit history, their character, their general reputation and lifestyle. These kind of reports often have information such as a person’s rental history, information from previous landlords or even information from public records of court cases. These reports include:

  1. A credit report from a credit bureau, such as Transunion, Experian, and Equifax, or an affiliate company.
  2. A report from a tenant-screening service that describes the applicant’s rental history, and also includes a credit report that service got from a credit bureau.
  3. A report from a tenant-screening service that is limited to a credit report the service got from a bureau.
  4. A report from a reference checking service that contacts previous landlords or other parties listed on the rental application on behalf of the rental property owner.

These Reports Must Be Prepared by a Consumer Reporting Agency to Be Protected!

Sometimes, landlords ask applicants to give personal, employment, and previous landlord references on their rental applications. When these references are verified by the landlord’s agent, they are not protected. When they are verified by an agency hired by the landlord, then they are protected.

Since 1995, attorney Eric Castelblanco has been dedicated to helping tenants understand and assert their rights. For more information about your rights, call 213-388-6004 or visit their website at: www.castelblanco.com. The information presented in this column is for educational purposes only. You should seek the advice of an attorney regarding your individual situation.

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