Fair Housing Laws – How Tenant Screening Background Checks Can Help You Treat Everyone Equal

Fair housing laws are passed to help eliminate discrimination based on race, color, religion, familial status, disability and in some cases age and sexual orientation. As a landlord being aware of fair housing laws is not a recommendation it’s an absolute must.

How can you protect yourself from facing the unsavory charges of discrimination? One way to avoid big trouble is by using a background check to make your decisions on potential tenants well-thought out and fair.

1. Require the same information for background checks from all applicants

Before running a background check have a list of information you require from all applicants. Above all else, ensure that you never ask one individual from a protected class for information that you do not ask of others. For instance, asking an Hispanic applicant for a W-2 while not requesting this documentation from a white applicant would be in direct violation of fair housing laws. Be consistent with all of your potential renters.

2. When being consistent, background checks provide quantitative reasons to select tenants

Staying out of the boiling hot water of discrimination is much easier when you have solid, numerical proof that backs up your decision-making process. Craft a list of specific qualifications that all of your acceptable applicants must meet. If necessary, you can provide quantitative proof that you are not discriminating. Again, it’s of the highest priority to require the same measurables be met by all of your applicants that are protected.

3. Numbers are a landlord’s best friend

Regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion or age, when you have a set of numbers that assist you in making a decision you are already putting yourself ahead of the discrimination game. Using solid data instead of gut feelings is not only wise it can also help you avoid even the appearance of discriminating against a protected class. If an applicant has missed several months of paying rent or even worse, has an eviction on their record, this makes your job easier in removing them from consideration. Even if that individual falls under the legal umbrella of a protected class.

4 Types of Pre-Employment Drug Screening

You just landed your dream job but you have one last hurdle to clear before you can celebrate your big achievement: the pre-employment drug test. This practice to protect employers from making the mistake of hiring individuals who are using illicit drugs can cause prospective employees a few sleepless nights. However, before losing precious shuteye become familiar with the types of tests so you know what to expect.

1. Urine Test conducted at a lab or on site

The most traditional type of drug test is conducted at a lab and uses the potential employee’s urine to screen for drugs and alcohol. In some cases, the urine test can be completed on site at one of the employer’s location – to save money and for convenience. Most commonly five panel drug tests are performed that screen for marijuana, PCP, cocaine, opiates and amphetamines. If an employer wants a more robust view of an individual’s drug usage an in-depth 10-panel test can be implemented. Since alcohol passes through the system very quickly, urine tests are more effective in detecting illegal drug use rather than alcohol.

2. Blood

A blood test is used primarily to check alcohol and drug levels at the time the test is completed – for recent consumption. It is not as reliable as urine tests for long term detection but is more effective in determining current levels of alcohol and drugs in the system.

3. Hair follicle testing

When an employer wants a complete long-term picture of a potential employee’s drug use a hair test may be in order. Testing hair has proven to be effective in detecting illicit drug use for months. Utilizing hair can detect many illegal drugs such as marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin and PCP. Although the efficacy of testing hair is not in doubt when it comes to drugs, this test cannot be used to determine alcohol use.

4. Saliva

Quick, easy and offering deeper insights, some employers may choose to perform a saliva test. Saliva testing is more effective in detecting specific drugs than urine but it has its drawbacks as well. Drugs and alcohol do not remain in saliva as long as they do in urine. Saliva testing is mainly used to check for recent usage and pinpointing a specific substance.