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AI Policy & Governance, Privacy & Data

CDT Comments to Federal Agencies Highlight Risks of Data Used in Tenant Screening

In the White House’s Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights, released in January 2023, CDT submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on the effects of evaluating credit, criminal, and eviction record data as part of the tenant screening process. These types of data are typically used to predict whether a rental applicant will pay their rent on time and whether they will pose a risk to other tenants or the landlord’s property.

However, as our comments discuss, credit, criminal, and eviction records are often unreliable for making such predictions, and they are most likely to disqualify rental applicants from communities that experience higher rates of socioeconomic marginalization. Further, when neither landlords nor tenant screening companies clearly explain the basis for a rejected rental application to applicants, it is difficult for applicants to successfully dispute these negative decisions, especially while they’re trying to maintain income and secure safe and affordable housing elsewhere.

Our comments recommend that agencies explore new regulations and offer new guidance for both landlords and tenant screening companies to take responsibility for ensuring that tenant screening practices don’t run afoul of fair housing obligations.

Read the full comments here.