Confidentiality is Important
In rental housing, landlords often deal with sensitive information. Keeping that information secure is important because identity theft is so common. Any breach of information could affect someone’s financial history, credit report, and even result in theft of money or other assets. It’s important that we all do our part to make sure that information stays secure.
Keeping Applications Secure
When you are taking applications for a new unit, it is important to remember that you are responsible for keeping that information secure. A prospective tenant is entrusting you with their personal identifying information; social security number, driver’s license, and bank account information. If sensitive information like this falls into the wrong hands it can put someone at risk for identity theft.
Make sure that you keep all tenant applications stored in a secure area such as a document safe or locked filing cabinet. When you are ready to dispose of the information make sure to do so properly, use a paper shredder or other secure disposal system.
Keeping the Information Safe
Remember that the information you receive in a credit report is meant solely for you as the certified Rental Property Owner/Manager. It is meant for you to view in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not the applicant qualifies to rent your unit. This report is not to be given to or shown to the applicant as FCRA rules state (15 U.S.C. 1681b).
You should keep a copy of the rental application along with proof of ordering a tenant screening report, such as a paid receipt for your order or the summary sheet (this comes with all RHA reports), on file for five years. Remember to destroy your copy of the applicants’ credit report after you have made your decision as to whether or not they are qualified to rent from you.
Following these simple precautionary measures can help protect the safety of your applicants’ identity. Wouldn’t you want every precaution taken to protect your identity, if you were in their shoes? It is important that you are aware of RHAWA’s responsibilities in providing you with consumer reports as well as your own obligations now that you have access to this information for tenant screening. This is governed by the Furnishers of Information Obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
If you have any questions about these obligations or any other regulations put forth by the FCRA, fair housing or RHAWA, please email the staff in our Tenant Screening department. We’re happy to help you understand the rules and how to best comply with them.