September 21, 2023 — Article

Clients denied housing based on a background check report may have a claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The reporting of criminal background information to prospective landlords is a “permissible purpose” under the FCRA—background screening companies can report non-conviction information that is less than seven years old as well as criminal convictions no matter how long ago they occurred.

But the reporting of certain erroneous or obsolete criminal history information may give rise to FRCA claims against background screening companies because they are consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) under the FCRA. Even if a tenant screening company does not maintain its own database of criminal record information and instead relies on third-party data vendors to run background searches, the screening company is considered a “reseller” and is therefore still treated as a CRA subject to the FCRA.

This article discusses common issues involving criminal record reporting and tenant screening that may give rise to claims under the FCRA, and it provides practical guidance for obtaining relief. For purposes of this article, the terms “background screening” and “tenant screening” are used interchangeably.

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