Ask an Expert: Is a Bedbug Infestation the Tenant’s Fault?

My tenant says my rental condo has a bedbug infestation, which the property manager confirms. There were no bedbugs when the tenant moved in two years ago. Who’s responsible? Can I take action against my tenant?

–Bugged in Berkeley

Dear Bugged,

You’re certainly not alone. There appears to have been a massive epidemic of bedbug infestations across the United States in 2016, which is still ongoing. It can happen to anybody–it’s not just a matter of poor cleaning habits. Bedbugs frequently manage to invade even meticulously well-kept homes by hitching a ride on a child’s coat after he’s been out playing with friends, or pets out for a walk, or used furniture from another home.

Back in 2010, intimate apparel retailer Victoria’s Secret reported that one of their locations had been invaded by a bedbug infestation, forcing them to destroy the infested clothing and treat the entire store for the pests. There were similar infestations at retailers Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch, among others. Perhaps your dwelling became infested after your tenant innocently shopped at a reputable retailer, whose clothing may have been contaminated with nearly invisible bedbug eggs during shipping.

One team member here at APM had been staying in a Las Vegas hotel room for a few days when she noticed itchy red bites on her skin. She only avoided bringing the bedbugs home with her by quarantining her suitcase in the bathroom when she got back.

They could be invading the property from a nearby dumpster as well, or from a neighboring unit. I’m sharing these examples with you to help you to understand that a bedbug infestation isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault–it’s an unfortunate situation that could happen to anyone, and is not necessarily due to neglect or bad behavior.

Sure, some apartments are more cluttered or less pristine than others–but clutter or poor housekeeping don’t normally cause a bedbug infestation, though it may delay detection. In any case, your tenant is likely doing you a favor by alerting you to the problem.

So don’t be too quick to blame your tenant. Remember that they’re just as eager to eradicate the bedbug infestation as you are–perhaps even more so, because it’s their living situation that’s being disrupted by misery and discomfort. These things happen, and unless you have some pretty specific evidence of negligence, the chances are good your tenant did nothing wrong. In fact, some landlords who have a lot of rental units have found that playing the blame game and trying to punish a tenant with a bedbug infestation has a reverse effect: Tenants will delay reporting a bedbug infestation until the problem gets much worse and spreads to neighboring units.

Chances are, you’ll need to invest in eradicating the bedbug infestation, and extermination costs are normally the responsibility of the landlord, not the tenant. However, your tenant can contribute to the solution in several important ways. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open throughout the eradication process, because you’re going to need their cooperation.

You’re going to have to have someone treat the bedbug infestation ASAP. However, remember that you also have an obligation to provide at least 24 hours’ written notice of your intent to enter the dwelling under California Civil Law Section 1954.

First, ask your tenant to wash every article of clothing and linen in sight. You’ll likely want to provide them with the special dissolvable pesticide bags they can put in the washer to kill bugs, eggs, and larvae on contact. They’re cheap–about $2 per load of laundry–and well worth the investment.

Once they’re done with the laundering, have them put their clothing and bedding in sealed plastic bags and vacuum. Next, ask them to declutter as much as possible, pulling everything out of closets and drawers and off of shelves. They’ll have to clear out of the apartment while the apartment is being treated, but depending on the measures used, they may be able to come back later that same day.

For more detailed information on available countermeasures, including which treatments are most effective in a multi-family context, see this brochure from the National Center for Healthy Housing.

If you own multiple units in the building, issue a handout to the other tenants letting them know which preventative measures they should take. (Here’s an excellent example from the housing officials at University of Nebraska.)

Just a few more things you should be aware of: In California, landlords are obligated to keep their rental units in a habitable condition, regardless of your personal financial situation (Knight vs. Hallsthammer (1981) 29 C.3rd 46). California Civil Code Section 1941.1, Landlord Obligations states that it’s your responsibility as the landlord to keep the property free of rubbish, filth, garbage, and vermin.

In addition, California Civil Code Section 1942.5 prohibits landlords from taking retaliatory action against a tenant for requesting a repair from their landlord. So if you do try to evict or take any other measure against the tenant for reporting the bedbug infestation, you could potentially give them a cause of action against you.

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Tenant Screening Chicago

As the economic and cultural hub of the region, Chicago is a thriving metro area with lots of rental properties. According to the city, more than 60 percent of Chicago residents live in rentals. Landlords that manage property in Chicago should be aware of both state and municipal laws concerning their business, especially when it comes to Chicago tenant screening.  There’s no doubt that the proper screening of applicants gives Chicago landlords the best chance of finding the ideal tenants.

When it comes to tenant screening Chicago-style, landlords can use this post to learn more about:

  • Chicago tenant screening laws
  • Free resources for landlords
  • Basics on the tenant screening processes
  • Finding the best tenant screening services

Tenant Screening Chicago Laws

The city of Chicago , like many metro areas, has additional tenant screening laws and regulations to help keep things fair for both landlords and tenants. Chicago landlords definitely should educate themselves to learn all they can about tenant screening issues and what makes Chicago different than the rest of the state and the country.

Here are a few interesting things about Chicago tenant screening:

  • Illinois does not limit how much a landlord can charge for an application fee.
  • Chicago follows the state laws and also doesn’t have a minimum or maximum amount on application fees.
  • Landlords with properties in Chicago are able to charge an application fee that is non-refundable.
  • Even if the application is denied, landlords can keep the application fee.

Landlords without the proper knowledge of Chicago tenant screening laws run the risk of getting a tenant that will be a big drain on time and money. Chicago landlords should always look at what’s new at this Chicago city website.

Avoiding This Common Screening Mistake

Chicago landlords are making a big mistake if their rental application doesn’t ask for a signature from the applicant. Why? Because landlords need consent to perform a background check. Chicago landlords that have failed to get a signature from the applicant cannot run a background check. If the current application form doesn’t have a space for a signature, landlords should do what they can to make changes right away.

Here’s the proper way to do it, taken from the rental application at RentPrep:



See how the top arrow reminds applicants that the application fee isn’t going to be refundable. The bottom arrow points out the very important signature line, which gives landlords the right to run a background check.

Resources for Tenant Screening in Chicago

RentPrep has gathered a helpful list of links for you to use in your real estate business. There’s no better way to find top tenants than to use the information here.

*Consider a no blank space policy to eliminate all incomplete applications. If a form is turned in with blank spaces for answers, it should be discarded as incomplete. This helps eliminate applicants that are trying to be sneaky and divert attention from troublesome parts of their past.

Chicago Tenant Screening Process

Finding the best tenant means getting the best applicants, and Chicago landlords need to use a tenant screening criteria list to do this. As part of the application process, landlords can come up with a list of their ideal characteristics in a tenant. Using that list, they can then compare all the applications to a consistent standard. The ones that are the closest match are kept and the ones that are way off are denied.

Here’s a good Chicago tenant screening criteria list:

  • Definitely no past evictions
  • No pets
  • Smoking is allowed
  • A 3:1 income to rent ratio
  • At least 12 months in current job
  • No criminal history

Discrimination in housing is very serious, so Chicago landlords should avoid including criteria that would deny applicants based on a protected status. In other words, landlords need to know the federal, state and municipal discrimination standards when sorting applicants. Generally, large metro areas have even more strict laws on discrimination than the federal and the state level.  The city of Chicago, for example, doesn’t allow landlords to discriminate against sexual orientation, gender orientation or identity, military discharge status and domestic violence order of protection status.  Here is a good resource for Chicago housing discrimination issues. For federal housing discrimination details, landlords may reference the website.

Chicago screening laws include:

  • No limits on what landlords can charge as application fees
  • Never practice discrimination against protected classes, especially those outlined by the city which go beyond federal/state
  • Steer clear of discrimination lawsuits by creating a fair tenant screening criteria list to sort applications

This helpful site can assist landlords as they want to stay educated on what’s going on in Chicago when it comes to landlord/tenant laws.

Check Out Your Illinois Screening Guide

In many cases cities have their own screening rules and regulations while the state has another set of rules that govern the screening process.

Click here to go to our post on “Illinois Tenant Screening Process.”

Finding the Right Tenant Screening Services

Once Chicago landlords have sorted out the applications and narrowed the search down to the best three applicants, it is time to do a background check. Finding a good tenant screening service isn’t hard when landlords know what to look for. A background check is the best way to figure out what kind of tenant someone will be.

Chicago landlords should find a company that provides info about:

  • Previous addresses
  • Evictions
  • Judgments and liens
  • Bankruptcies

Landlords need to get the results of the background check before making the final decision. When following all the steps in the Chicago tenant screening process, they are most likely to have a great tenant occupying their rental.

At RentPrep, we have experience with over 21,000 landlords over the past 10 years. Check out our tenant screening packages to see the services we offer.

Our FCRA certified screeners will put your mind at ease by providing the best tenant screening report available.

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Ep. 148: Property Management Tips with Hampton & Hampton

Have you ever heard of having a 3rd party do your inspections for Move-In Move-Out and lease renewals?

Steve and Eric have never heard of this until reading this tip from Kim Meredith-Hampton of Hampton & Hampton.

Hampton & Hampton is a property management company based in Orlando and they share some of their tips on this week’s episode.

Interesting takeaways from this episode:

Hampton & Hampton uses a 3rd party to do home inspections.

This saved them thousands from a claim where a new tenant said they had got sick from black mold.

Their inspector is certified in black mold and the report said it was fine and got the case thrown out in court.

Also, they do repairs at “market rate” instead of putting a dollar amount on what the repairs will be. This way if a deeper clean or repair is needed it’s covered.

Cost for inspection: Hampton & Hampton has many properties so they negotiated the cost down to $99 per inspection.

Another fun thing that they use is a Move-In video to set the stage and walk them through the lease step-by-step.

The term “firm, fair, and consistent” was used by Scott and that’s a great way to describe tenant screening and property management.

In conclusion:

If you’re thinking about hiring a property management company you have to do your due diligence.

In some states (including Florida) you need to be licensed so you want to make sure the company is licensed.

How many houses do they manage?

How many houses do they lease?

What are their reviews?

What kind of agreements do they have in place?

Kim also mentioned the CRMC accreditation which is a great sign that a property management firm is professional.


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Attracting Families to Your Rental Properties: 5 Cost-Effective Tips

If you want to attract families to your rental properties, you’re in luck: You likely won’t have to drastically change what you’re already doing. Simply modify your “talking points”; distribute rental vacancy postings in a few new places; and make sure that your rental is, in fact, ready for a family.

Here’s what you need to know to attract families to your rental properties:

Attract Families to Your Rental Properties: Tip #1

Promote Accessibility

Families need to have the ability to run out in the middle of the night for medicine or first thing in the morning for milk. If your property can offer them that accessibility, make sure they know it.

One of the best ways to show this is to include the Walk Score of your property. This statistic, provided by, tells people exactly how accessible your property is to retail stores, restaurants, and other popular destinations. You can also get a commute score from this site, which will be valuable information for working families. (In addition, providing these numbers shows that you’re considerate of families’ needs, which makes a great impression.)

Pro tip: If your Walk Score is below 70, don’t promote it in your listings, according to 12 Ways to Use Data to Sell Your House Faster. Author Alexa Collins says, “Buyers who really care about Walk Score are people who want a place with a lot of resources nearby, so if you have a score under 70 don’t add it to your listing but anything over 71 is advertising gold.”

Attract Families to Your Rental Properties: Tip #2

Talk About Safety

Few people care more about community safety than parents. If you want to attract families to your rental properties, you need to show them that it’s a safe place to raise their children. Luckily, there are a number of ways to quantify this information for your rental:

  • Crime rates: Find information about your neighborhood at Neighborhood Scout. If it’s positive, divulge annual averages regarding break-ins and other common safety concerns.
  • Security systems: If applicable, explain what’s installed and how it boosts the rental’s safety. In addition, if your building has a doorman or security personnel, be sure to highlight that.
  • Distance from police station: Only include this if it’s relatively close.
  • Community watch information: If you have a neighborhood watch, or are listed and active on, be sure potential renters know that.
  • Kid-safe areas: If there’s a pool or a questionably safe backyard, update locks and fencing to ease parents’ concerns.

Attract Families to Your Rental Properties: Tip #3

Highlight Cost of Food

The cost of food is a significant factor for all renters, especially parents, who want to provide for their children without spending an arm and a leg. To determine the general cost of food in your community, consider these two questions:

  • Which grocery stores are within walking or driving distance? If you have a variety of stores in your area–traditional supermarkets as well as more niche stores like Whole Foods–be sure to highlight that.
  • How many small, affordable eateries are nearby? (Think sandwich shops, cafes, and take-out restaurants.) Having a variety of inexpensive, fast, and family-friendly options close by is a big plus.

Attract Families to Your Rental Properties: Tip #4

Determine & Feature Cost of Living

If your community has been recognized on any cost of living lists (such as Money Crasher’s 10 Most Affordable U.S. Cities to Live In), be sure to highlight that in any social posts or on listing sites. Being recognized by a reputable source gives your property an automatic seal of approval.

You can also help potential renters determine how a move could change their cost of living by sharing CNN’s Cost of Living Calculator. After entering the ZIP codes of their current neighborhood as well as yours, potential renters will see the percentage increase or decrease in grocery, housing, utilities, and more. (Obviously, this isn’t a great thing to promote if you live in a pricey neighborhood, since people looking to move to an affluent area are likely willing to trade location for affordability… but may not want to know just how much of a trade-off they’re making!)

Attract Families to Your Rental Properties: Tip #5

Spruce Up Your Outdoor Space

Families need a space to grow in; and for parents to stay in your unit in the long term, they’ll want a yard that their kids can play in for years to come. As such, it’s an important space to focus on if you’re thinking about updating your property to attract more families. Add the following upgrades to your to-do list:

  • A fence, if you don’t have one already.
  • A swing set that won’t rust or break. Finished wood swing sets are classic and can be added onto over the years.
  • Convert extra garage space into storage for outdoor toys. Include a space for bikes and perhaps cubbies for wet or muddy clothing so kids don’t track their mess into the house.

Lastly, don’t forget that if you want to attract families to your rental properties, you’ll need to do more than make the right upgrades and post the right information. Reach parents by posting fliers at community centers, libraries, and schools, and give past tenants the opportunity to make a little money by referring families to you.


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The Sound Of (Tenant) Silence | RentPrep

One year ago Disturbed performed a cover of “The Sound Of Silence” on Conan.

If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out.

It got me thinking.

When you’re a landlord there are awkward silences too.

Mostly around the 1st of the month wondering if your tenant will pay rent on time without a friendly reminder.

Here’s a helpful tip to end the silence, nestled inside of an awkward cover we’re calling “The Sound Of (Tenant) Silence.”

I think a music career is clearly out of the question.

However, at the end of the video is a valuable tip.

When I started out as a landlord I didn’t know any better and I didn’t have a late fee setup in my lease.

Once I instituted AND followed-through with a late fee, I suddenly saw rent getting paid on time.

I hear landlords complain that their tenant’s don’t pay on time are usually either not enforcing the late fee or just don’t have one.

Make things easy on yourself and institute a late fee policy.

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Tenant Screening Los Angeles

Los Angeles landlords are in the ideal place to own rental properties because the city attracts so many people who want to live there. In fact, around 60 percent of the population is renting. However, in order to make their rentals profitable, Los Angeles landlords should keep up to speed on all the information regarding screening applicants. Without tenant screening in Los Angeles, landlords run the risk of getting tenants that will cost them a lot of time and money.

With the Los Angeles tenant screening process, landlords will learn more about:

  • LA tenant screening laws
  • Lots of free resources
  • A free tenant screening guide
  • An overview of screening processes
  • Some basics of tenant screening services

Tenant Screening Los Angeles Laws

Los Angeles has plenty of laws and regulations when it comes to tenant screening. While state laws regulate a lot of the process, many metro cities have their own set of laws as well.  It’s a good idea for landlords to learn all they can about what makes tenant screening in Los Angeles unique.

For example, landlords should know this about tenant screening in Los Angeles:

  • The state of California limits how much a landlord can charge for an application fee at just under $50.00. The city of Los Angeles follows this state regulation.
  • Landlords in LA can charge an application fee for each adult on the application.
  • If the application is denied because of bad credit, landlords in Los Angeles must provide the applicant with the copy of the credit report.

It’s never a good idea to overlook the ins and outs of tenant screening laws in Los Angeles. When things get confusing, LA landlords can refer to this comprehensive website.

Many Landlords Make This Common Screening Mistake

If Los Angeles landlords are using out of date rental applications they could be making a big mistake. In order to perform a background check on an applicant, landlords need written permission. If Los Angeles landlords don’t have the signature of the applicant, they cannot run a background check on that person. Landlords should make changes to the application right away if there is no signature line.

Check out the rental application at RentPrep:



The top red arrow shows where applicants find out that the application fee is not refundable. The bottom red arrow shows applicants that they need to provide a signature so a background check is allowed.

Resources for Tenant Screening in Los Angeles

RentPrep has gathered a helpful list of links for you to use in your real estate business. There’s no better way to find top tenants than to use the information here.

*Los Angeles landlords are increasingly setting up a no blank space policy when reviewing applications. This means that they discard any applications that hare not complete. If an answer is left blank, the application is not put forward.

Los Angeles Tenant Screening Process

Applying a consistent and organized review process to all applications is the best way to sort out which ones are going to represent fine applicants. Creating a Los Angeles tenant screening criteria list can help landlords focus in on what they want in a tenant. They must write down all the factors they are looking for in their ideal tenant.  Then, the landlord simply compares the applications to the list and keeps the ones that are the closest match.

This is an example of a Los Angeles tenant screening criteria list:

  • No evictions
  • Pets limited to two under 10 lbs
  • No smoking
  • Income to rent ratio at 3:1
  • No violent criminal history

Of course, when creating a Los Angeles tenant screening list, landlords need to avoid all kinds of discrimination. Anti-discrimination laws at the federal level and at the state level are quite strict, and the city of Los Angeles has even more anti-discrimination housing laws to pay attention to. For example, Los Angeles includes sexual orientation and source of income as protected classes.Landlords can learn more about city housing discrimination issues here. For federal housing discrimination details, landlords should look at website.

More about Los Angeles tenant screening laws :

  • Los Angeles landlords are strictly limited on what they may charge as application fees
  • Any applicant can request a copy of the credit report, even if the application is denied
  • Los Angeles landlords cannot discriminate against protected classes listed on the federal and state level. The city protections are broader than federal and state protected classes.
  • To avoid discrimination lawsuits, Los Angeles landlords should have consistent standards when reviewing applications.

Los Angeles landlords should bookmark this helpful website to keep them on top of all the landlord tenant rules for the city.

Check Out Your California Screening Guide

In many cases cities have their own screening rules and regulations while the state has another set of rules that govern the screening process.

Click here to go to our post on “California Tenant Screening Process.”

Finding the Right Tenant Screening Services

Los Angeles landlords should send the top applications to a reputable tenant screening service. When they pay the reasonable fee for a detailed background check, they’ll be able to figure out which of all the applicants will make the best tenant.

A tenant screening company should give landlords info about:

  • Evictions
  • Bankruptcies
  • Judgments and liens
  • Previous addresses

With a detailed background check, landlords in Los Angeles can make the offer of a lease to the very best applicant.  With luck, it will lead to a long and prosperous rental.

At RentPrep, we have experience with over 21,000 landlords over the past 10 years. Check out our tenant screening packages to see the services we offer.

Our FCRA certified screeners will put your mind at ease by providing the best tenant screening report available.

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8 Small Gestures to Show Tenant Appreciation & Increase Lease Renewals

A good tenant is worth their weight in gold. Much has been written about how to deal with inevitable problem tenants, minimizing their impact on the profitability of your investment. However, the flip side, of course, is retaining good tenants who take good care of your investment, while paying your taxes and mortgage for you in the long run.

Keep good tenants happy, and they’ll refer other good tenants your way. But you won’t get the good referrals if you’re nickel-and-diming your residents, being slow to make reasonable and necessary repairs, or otherwise falling short on your duties as a landlord. Sure, you can get away with it for a while, but you’ll ultimately see the quality of your tenants and your properties decline–and consequently, your rental income.

In the short-term, showing tenants that they’re appreciated may cost a bit out of pocket. In the long run, however, a modest investment in simple customer relations pays dividends. Never forget that you’re in fierce competition with other landlords–as well as home sellers and their real estate agents–to keep good tenants in your units.

8 Cost-Effective Ways to Show Your Tenant Appreciation

  1. Have a welcome letter and a small gift basket waiting for them on the kitchen counter when new tenants move in. When tenants renew their lease for another year, you can repeat this gesture by sending a kind note and a small gift basket.
  2. Give them a gift card to a local hardware or home goods store, and tell them to spend it on whatever they need to make their unit feel like home. The amount depends on your budget, of course, but it doesn’t have to be a large amount to make the point.
  3. Replace an aging appliance. You don’t have to wait until the tenant moves out to put in that brand new refrigerator. If you’re planning on doing the replacement anyway, go ahead and do it now. Why would you invest in making the unit more attractive to future tenants without first trying to keep your current ones? A new or upgraded appliance can be a noticeable quality of life improvement–and it might just be the tipping point for them to renew their lease over looking for a new place.
  4. Organize a tenant appreciation event. This works better for landlords and property managers of larger buildings, but it can be as simple as a small cookout for tenants and their families. This will strengthen your relationship with your tenants, as well as their relationships with one another–creating a community within the building that can be a tremendous asset.
  5. Track tenants’ birthdays and key anniversaries, and send them a card or a small gift. A gift card toward dinner at a local restaurant goes a long way in making tenants feel special–as does the simple act of commemorating days that are significant to them.
  6. Have a small gift or cut a small break on the rent for, say, six months of on-time payments. It’s a small price to pay to help ensure six more months of on-time payments. Prompt, reliable tenants save you a lot of money and hassle.
  7. Jump on the chance to make repairs. It’s your property you’re repairing, after all–and you almost never save money by waiting. Tackling a request faster than expected is also a great way to differentiate yourself from a lot of landlords. It may not be the sole reason that they renew; but on the other hand, many landlords have lost tenants and suffered vacancies because they were slow to handle repairs. Stay well-capitalized so you don’t have to break a sweat over unexpected repairs, and always budget at least 5% of your property’s value for repairs per year.
  8. A small gift card–say, $25–to your local grocery store right before major holidays will always be appreciated (and put to good use).

3 Extraordinary Examples of Tenant Appreciation

Here are some of our favorite stories of landlords going above and beyond for their tenants:

One landlord we know of went to the local Toys “R” Us store and paid off every purchase that his tenant (a single mom) had on layaway so that her kids could have a good Christmas. We particularly love this story because the tenant had had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to pay her rent on time that year. It wasn’t a ton of money in the grand scheme of things, but it meant the world to that family.

Another landlord that we know (who has a lot of Section 8 tenants) makes a point of referring his tenants with children to Toys for Tots, a charity program sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. But shhh–his tenants don’t know it’s him!

Another landlord surprises renewing tenants with a TV at his annual walk-through. He explains, “Is it worth $149 to keep your tenant for one year? What is it worth to keep them for two? That’s a small expense to not have to find a new tenant!” After 3 years, he buys his tenants a small computer system, also costing him under $200. Occasionally, he gives out a premium or tenant appreciation gift worth around $50. He says, “In 3 years, I’ve spent $400 to keep a tenant. If I have one vacant month, it will cost much more than that. My tenants are thinking about that next gift!” Think he has trouble getting referrals?

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It’s Now Cool to Have Mismatched Fixtures

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine A home with a mix of chrome, nickel, brass, and bronze fixtures may prompt some home buyers to pause. But such mismatches are actually on trend. (Good news to those remodelers who may not have gotten around quite yet to updating all of those fixtures to the same color!) […]

Tenant Screening NYC

The Big Apple has plenty of rentals, this according to the latest census data, that says 51% of the city’s housing is occupied by renters. This post on Tenant Screening NYC will delve into the specific of screening tenants in the big apple and also provide free resources on how to get the best possible tenant. If you’re a landlord in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island this article is a must read.

With the New York City tenant screening process, landlords will learn more about:

  • NYC tenant screening laws
  • Free resources
  • Screening tenants properly
  • Overview of screening processes
  • Basics of tenant screening services

Tenant Screening NYC Laws

It’s true that tenant screening in NYC has plenty of laws and regulations that comes with the territory. Many of the country’s largest cities have different landlord/tenant policies than other smaller communities because urban areas often need a different type of oversight when compared to suburban and rural rental properties.

Here are just a few particulars about tenant screening in NYC:

For example:

  • The state of New York places no maximum amount on application fees, and this also applies in NYC.
  • Landlords in New York City with application fees that are too high run the risk of good applicants going elsewhere.
  • NYC landlords are required to post a sign that states whether or not they use tenant screening reports to make rental decisions. They can be penalized if they neglect to post the sign.

Ignoring the laws on tenant screening is a bad idea for landlords in NYC. To keep up to date on all the different regulations, landlords can refer to this comprehensive NYC guide.

Avoid This Common Screening Mistake

Way too many NYC landlords are using rental applications that don’t help them find out all the best information on their potential tenants. In order for a landlord to run a background check on an applicant, they need to have their signature of consent on file. In other words, NYC landlords need to get the written consent of applicants before they can run a background check.

Here’s how we do it at RentPrep:



Top red arrow: This informs every applicant that the application fee is non-refundable.

Bottom red arrow: This indicates where the applicant needs to sign in order to give written permission for a background check.

Resources for Tenant Screening in NYC

RentPrep has gathered a helpful list of links for you to use in your real estate business. There’s no better way to find top tenants than to use the information here.

*Consider adopting a no blank space policy to help sort through applications. This practice means that landlords can discard any applications that aren’t completely filled out. If there is a blank space for an answer, it is automatically rejected.

NYC Tenant Screening Process

Another way to sort through applications is by creating a tenant screening list. NYC landlords can  create this list by writing down all the characteristics of their ideal tenant.  It helps landlords compare applications to a consistent standard and makes it easy to reject applications that don’t measure up.

Here is just one example of an NYC tenant screening criteria list:

  • Income to rent ratio must be at least 2:1
  • Proof of holding current job for at least 6 months
  • No violent criminal history
  • Only one pet under 10 lbs.
  • No evictions in rental history
  • No smoking

NYC landlords with a tenant screening criteria list will find it to be helpful in sorting through various applications and cutting through all the confusion about which applications are the best.

There’s one important thing to remember when creating an NYC tenant screening criteria list and that is to avoid discrimination in any form. Landlords in NYC must comply with all anti-discrimination housing laws on the federal and state level. However NYC has additional protected classes that are covered here. For federal housing discrimination laws, check out the website.

More on NYC tenant screening laws and regulations:

  • NYC landlords don’t have a limit on what they can charge for application fees
  • Any application can legally be denied if it does not meet an NYC’s non-discriminatory screening criteria
  • NYC includes protected classes that are broader than federal and state protections, so landlords in the city must comply
  • Landlords in NYC can avoid discrimination lawsuits by applying consistent standards to application reviews.

NYC landlords can refer to this comprehensive website for more information on property management.

Check Out Your New York Screening Guide

In many cases cities have their own screening rules and regulations while the state has another set of rules that govern the screening process.

Click here to go to our post on “New York Tenant Screening Process.”

Finding the Right Tenant Screening Services

Once NYC landlords get the top applications in hand, they need to find the right tenant screening service to do a background check. There’s no substitute for a real background check done by professionals.

For a modest fee, tenant screening services should provide details on areas like:

  • Past evictions
  • All bankruptcies
  • Any judgments and liens
  • Prior addresses

Once the real backgrounds of the top applicants is revealed by the tenant screening service, NYC landlords will be able to make a final decision on who to offer the lease agreement to.

At RentPrep, we have experience with over 21,000 landlords over the past 10 years. Check out our tenant screening packages to see the services we offer.

Our FCRA certified screeners will put your mind at ease by providing the best tenant screening report available.

The post Tenant Screening NYC appeared first on RentPrep.

Legislative Day at the Capitol: Sunday

CAI-CLAC has prepared a great first day for attendees of our legislative trip. We’re bringing you insider’s knowledge on how Sacramento works and how we lobby for the benefit of community associations. Also covered on Sunday is an overview of short-term rentals, and what boards, managers, and residents should know about this ongoing issue. Then we take a look at the Case Laws that have shaped our industry.

Finally, what are the hot bills of 2017-18? Our advocate, Louie A. Brown gives us the rundown on what we’re focused on this legislative session, and which bills will help or hurt our community associations.

11:00 a.m. – Noon – Welcome!/How a Bill Becomes a Law
Amy K. Tinnetti, Esq. with Hughs Gill Cochrane Tinetti, P.C. and Laurie Poole, Esq with Peters and Freedman, LLP

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch Roundtable
Boxed Lunches will be provided with roundtable-style introductions of Education Session attendees.

1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. – Short-Term Rentals – The Arguments for Them, Against Them and Unintended Consequences of Rental Restrictions
Natalie Stewart with FHA Review

  • Does a City or other governmental body have the authority to restrict an HOA’s right to rent on a transient basis?  Who supersedes who? 
  • Can the Coastal Commission dictate the rights of your owners? 
  • Is the Board obligated to meet FHA or VA criteria to help owners with financing options?
  • What restrictions can we use with the least amount of consequences to our owners?

2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. – AB’s & SB’s: What About CL’s? Case Laws That Have Shaped the Industry
Jeremy S. Wilson with Associa PCM

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Hot Bills
Louie Brown, CAI-CLAC Advocate


About our speakers:
Amy Tinetti joined Hughs Gill Cochrane Tinetti, P.C. in 2007. In 2017, Ms. Tinetti became a shareholder at which time the name of the firm changed to Hughes Gill Cochrane Tinetti, P.C.  She has been representing homeowners associations since 2004 in all aspects of their corporate operations, including governing document analysis, interpretation, revision and enforcement, elections, real property and title issues, planning and collection of large special assessments, analyzing and drafting agreements with vendors, and member disputes and litigation.



Laurie S. Poole, Esq. has been a community association law attorney with Peters & Freedman, L.L.P. since 1993. Laurie is a Fellow of CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL). Experienced in all aspects of community association representation, Laurie’s practice emphasizes interpretation and enforcement of governing documents, governing document amendments, restatements and petitions brought under California Civil Code Section 4275. She has published numerous articles concerning legal issues for community associations and currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for CAI-San Diego and is on CCAL’s Amicus Review Committee.



Natalie Stewart is the President of FHA Review by a|v|s, which is a division of Association Vendor Solutions. She has been completing FHA Approval packages since the initiation of the new approval procedure.  Natalie has actively participated in several CAI chapters as committee member and chair of several committees in the past.  She was also nominated as Speaker of the Year for the Orange County chapter in 2009.



Jeremy Wilson serves as Regional Vice President of Associa-PCM. His expertise focuses on the operational aspects of the community association and education of community leaders as well as managers. Development of preventative maintenance programs, conducting operational audits, and redefining staffing models are a few of his many areas of responsibilities within Associa-PCM. He currently serves as the President for the Community Association Institute’s (CAI) Greater Inland Empire Chapter board of directors, and is a member of CAI national.



Louie A. Brown Jr. is a partner with Kahn, Soares & Conway, LLP. He manages the firm’s Government Relations Team representing clients before the California State Legislature and various state administrative agencies. Louie specializes in providing clients with expert advice in maneuvering through California’s complex legislative and administrative process. He testifies regularly in the Capitol before many legislative committees on behalf of clients and has written numerous laws and played key roles in many of the Legislature’s major accomplishments and budget negotiations over the last decade.