Rental Services, Inc. September Newsletter

 This month’s RSI Newsletter features a review for Users of Consumer Reports, advertising and Fair Housing and a discussion about who’s application is it!

Notice to Users of Consumer Reports

 Did you know the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires users of Consumer Reports to follow specific rules and guidelines?

 When you originally setup your account with Rental Services, Inc. you signed the RSI Service Agreement as part of the setup process. Section 8 of this agreement acknowledges that you have read and understand your obligations under the FCRA. Section 8 specifically addresses a document titled Notice to Users of Consumer Reports: Obligations of Users Under the FCRA. If you’re not familiar with this document I recommend giving it a quick read at: Notice To Users Of Consumer Reports

 A few highlights of the document include:

 Users must have a permissible purpose to access someone’s credit file.

 If you decide to take an adverse action toward the applicant based on the consumer report, you must notify the applicant in writing. Adverse Action notices can be printed or emailed from the result page of the RSI website.

 Users have obligations when disposing of records.
 Additional rules apply to Users who obtain reports for employment screening.

Facebook and Fair Housing

 Did you know the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is Suing Facebook?

 Facebook provides a software platform that per HUD, unlawfully discriminates by giving advertisers access to adjust settings in the software that can be used to filter who can see an ad based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, natural origin and disability.

 The setting can be very basic allowing the user to select a specific gender to view an ad.
 More advanced features allow you to target specific key words in searches conducted by a user. This could be used to avoid showing ads to someone who has used search terms, such as assistance animals, wheel chair access or handicap support groups. Someone who is interested in these types of topics might be handicap.

 The software can even be used to show ads to certain zip codes and exclude others. This could be used to avoid areas with minorities.

 If you have used Facebook to advertise you may have used some of these preferences. It may have seemed logical to filter certain users and was probably not done to intentionally discriminate against anyone. Maybe the property is close to parks and schools, so you thought you would target people with children. Advertising to a specific zip code around a local college and excluding other zip codes makes sense if you were trying to target college students moving out of the dorms. However, each of these examples could run a fowl of Fair Housing.  

 The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing transactions, including print and online advertisement based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.

 This article isn’t really to point out Facebooks legal problems but to highlight the increasing scrutiny HUD and independent legal firms are placing on advertising as it pertains to Fair Housing.  

 HUD looks at discrimination done on purpose or accidently as the same thing. To protect yourself and your investment RSI recommends reviewing your online advertising, website and if you still use it print media.

 When using photos as part of your advertising and social media presence it’s recommended that you use photos that show diversity. It is best to try to use the rainbow effect. Show diversity by including a little bit of everything. Show both gender types, people of different races, people with disabilities, a wide range of ages, and families with and without kids.

 Review the verbiage in your ad. Does it seem to exclude a protected class? Make sure you have rental criteria and when denying someone for housing make sure it’s based on the criteria and not other factors.

 If your serious about avoiding a Fair Housing complaint make sure you fully understand the Fair Housing Act. Working with an attorney can be helpful, attending Fair Housing classes and making sure to treat everyone the same way should keep you out of trouble.

The Who Bin

 At RSI we have a secure bin for unknow applications, we call it the Who Bin. This is a special place for applications that we receive with no client information on the application. On average we receive several hundred applications daily and only receive a handful without client information.

 Last week I noticed a large stack of applications in the Who Bin. I did a quick count and was surprised to see 41 applications with no client information. That’s 41 background checks that clients think we are processing. I can say from experience that when these clients call to find out why they haven’t received any results they are going to be really upset.

 Almost every client I talk with discusses how important timeliness and accuracy are when it comes to background checks. Accuracy is something we strive for with every report. Timeliness requires a little help from you. If you send in an application you must include your name/company name, level of service and if you receive the Insta-Chek Scorecard please include the rental amount. If you have multiple people submitting applications, they should include their name as the requestor.

 Everyone at Rental Services, Inc. wants to process your application in a timely manner. Help us help you be successful.


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