Recently passed legislation in Washington State is generating quite a buzz in the rental housing industry. Washington Senate Bill 6413 contains three distinct provisions, one of which speaks to portable tenant screening reports.
Please note that the word “portable” is not used in the legislation. That is important, since the word portable suggests the applicant physically carries their report from landlord to landlord. While they can certainly do that, to qualify as a “comprehensive reusable tenant screening report” as now defined in RCW 59.18.030 – the report must be available directly (securely) from the tenant screening company.
Moco Inc. developed, markets and supports the industry’s first and (as far as we know) only comprehensive reusable tenant screening report as defined in the statute. We’ve done so for over seven years under the MyScreeningReport.com® brand (MSR). Still, MSR is relatively new. There are, as a result, misconceptions regarding what it is and how it works. Adding to the confusion are those who would (out of ignorance or competitive zeal) “mischaracterize” the product and the law –a disservice to the industry.
The objective here is to address the misconceptions and mischaracterizations – to dispel the myths.
Myth #1 – There is more than one Comprehensive Reusable Tenant Screening Report as defined in RCW 59.18.030.
The Facts: MyScreeningReport.com is (as far as we know) the only comprehensive reusable tenant screening report (as defined in RCW 59.18.030) in the market. Others will follow, however. Here is a checklist of the requirements for your use in evaluating competing solutions as they present.
Myth #2 – A landlord cannot see the credit information in an MSR report.
The Facts: MyScreeningReport.com® reports include an Experian credit report and credit score – fully visible to the applicant and the landlord. RCW 59.18.030 requires that comprehensive reusable reports include “A consumer credit report prepared by a consumer reporting agency within the last 30 days.” MyScreeningReport.com credit reports are actually refreshed with each share.
Myth #3 – The applicant may only share their MSR report with two landlords.
The Facts: Applicants can share their Report with as many landlords as they like for up to 30 days from the completion date.
Myth #4 – The applicant is charged $3.95 every time they share their report with a prospective landlord.
The Facts: There is no additional charge to the applicant or the landlord for additional shares. The applicant pays for the report up front. That is it!
Myth #5 – MyScreeningReport.com can only be accepted by owner operators.
The Facts: The term “landlord” is defined as the owner or any person designated as representative of the owner, such as an agent, resident manager or property manager. (See RCW 59.18.030 (11))
Myth #6 – “MSR reports are favorable to the applicant – they do not report prior evictions, juvenile records, active warrants or other criminal records.”
The Facts: All consumer reporting agencies, including tenant screening companies, are regulated by the same large, very strict and rapidly evolving body of law. The law and regulators place limits on report content – limits that are for the most part reasonable. All public records allowable under RCW 19.182.040, including pending cases and active warrants, are reported in MyScreeningReport.com reports. This law places reporting restrictions on the following adverse action items:
• Eviction records – may not be reported if the date of entry antedates the report by more than 7 years.
• Criminal records – may not be reported if the date of final disposition antedates the report by more than 7 years.
• Juvenile records – may not be reported after the applicant reaches 21 years of age unless found guilty in adult court.
We take our responsibility as a consumer reporting agency very seriously. We recognize the importance of these transactions to landlords and residents. Our role is to produce the most thorough and accurate tenant screening reports practicable – out of respect for all three parties to the transaction – the landlord, the applicant and ourselves.
Myth #7 – State rental housing associations supported SB6413 because they were motivated by the revenue possibility.
The Facts: Associations supported the bill because of the threat of something much worse – a portability mandate that would require landlords to either accept portable tenant screening reports OR pay to run their own. The increase from 14 to 21 days that landlords have to return deposits was appealing but not the overriding factor.
Hopefully this provides a better understanding of the re-usable tenant screening report and the standards of quality that we adhere to. For more information about this and similar topics please visit our Need to Know Blog.