Suing Your Landlord? You Could Find Yourself Blacklisted

Bankrate has an interesting article about tenant screening bureaus. They’re like credit reporting agencies, but they collect information from utility companies, state governments and the courts. More troubling, some tenant screening bureaus compile a database of people who have been involved in legal disputes with their landlords. What’s the trouble with that?

They don’t include information about the verdict. Just the fact that you were in a dispute with your landlord is enough to get your blacklisted. From Bankrate:

“There is no way to keep yourself out of a database,” says James B. Fishman, a New York-based attorney specializing in the rights of tenants and consumers, who represented Adam White, the tenant who brought the SafeRent suit. “If you try to enforce your rights under the law, then a landlord could retaliate and sue you, and that gets you blacklisted.” A spokesman for First American SafeRent declined to comment for this story.

Although the companies that engage in the creation of these blacklists are under considerable pressure to change the way they do business, what they are doing is technically not illegal. In fact, many municipalities, including the City of New York, routinely sell records of tenant-landlord disputes en masse to any tenant bureau that wants to buy them.

Like a credit report, reports from tenant screening bureaus can be inspected and disputed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. FirstAdvantageSafeRent has instructions on their site to help you get a free report.

Tenant screening could cost you rental [Bankrate]
(Photo:Tom Simpson)