CFPB Releases Joint Reports on Problems in Tenant Background Screenings

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released two reports on tenant background checks, Tenant Background Checks Market Report and Consumer Snapshot: Tenant Background Checks, on November 15. The two reports highlight the ways in which screening errors and false information provided by tenant screening companies raise barriers for those seeking rental housing.

After analyzing more than 24,000 complaints and holding focus groups with 44 renters, CFPB found that tenant screening companies’ failure to remove outdated, incorrect, or incomplete information contributes to higher costs for tenants and increased barriers to finding quality rental housing. Moreover, companies do not adequately investigate claims of incorrect information, leaving few avenues for tenants to update refuted information.

Landlords and property owners frequently rely on tenant screening companies to provide background reports on prospective tenants. These reports can contain extensive personal information, including credit histories, civil, criminal, and arrest records, and records of past evictions. However, CFPB’s analysis shows that these reports can provide outdated information or inaccurate or misleading information about arrests, convictions, or evictions. Moreover, background reports can even confuse different people’s information, such that a report for one person can contain negative information from a different person’s report. As a result of these errors, tenants can face increased housing and application costs and additional barriers to obtaining quality rental housing.

CFPB issued an advisory opinion last year warning tenant screening companies that matching consumer records through name alone is illegal under the “Fair Credit Reporting Act.” Individuals who would like to file a complaint against a tenant background check company can do so via the CFPB’s website.

Read “Tenant Background Checks Market Report” at:

Read “Consumer Snapshot: Tenant Background Checks” at: