California is one of the largest rental markets in the US.
If you are a landlord, real estate agent, or property manager it's critical you are familiar with some of the different California tenant screening laws and the different California Rental Applications.
We've written extensively on the topic on our blog. To summarize some of the main points:
- The California Association of Rentals Rental Application is the most widely used rental application. This application was created by California Association of Realtors and is updated typically every year. It has most of the important questions you would need to ask a tenant and the disclosures you would need to get signed in order to run background checks. PreApprovedRenter has a digital version of this application that allows you to collect a clients paperwork and instantly run background checks on them.
- You can charge a tenant for the cost of a background check however, the amount you can charge changes year by year based on the consumer price index. As of 2019 that amount is capped at around $40. This cost is to cover your out of pocket cost of the report and an itemized receipt is to be given.
- If you run background checks on a tenant this report also has to be provided to the client. The best practice is to give them the contact information to the Credit Reporting Agency and have them contact them directly for a copy.
- If you run criminal background checks its best to do so on every applicant. Real estate professionals that pick and choose who to run criminal background checks on could be liable to charges of discrimination.
- Landlords should avoid asking questions on their application that have to do with national origin, marital status, disability or medical condition, color, ancenstry, source of income, religion, sexual orientation, race or sex.
- California landlords, property managers and real estate agents need to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It's important to have a disclosure on your applications that state something to the effect of: I acknowledge that I have been given access to "A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act" which can be found at the link here.
You can learn more about California tenant screening and rental applications on our blog. You can also sign up to our site to customize your own rental application how you see fit.
This post is not intended as legal advice. Please consult an attorney for any legal matters.