The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission issued a request for information (RFI) yesterday seeking comment on “background screening issues affecting individuals who seek rental housing in the United States, including how the use of criminal and eviction records and algorithms affect tenant screening decisions and may be driving discriminatory outcomes.”  Comments in response to the RFI must be received by May 30, 2023.

The RFI follows the White House’s release last month of a “Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights” (Blueprint), which set forth principles intended to “create a shared baseline for fairness for renters in the housing market” and directed various federal agencies, including the CFPB and FTC, to take various actions to further those principles.  Among those actions was the issuance of RFIs “seek[ing] information on a broad range of practices that affect the rental market, including the creation and use of tenant background checks, the use of algorithms in tenant screenings, the provision of adverse action notices by landlords and property management companies, and how an applicant’s source of income factors into housing decisions.”

The RFI encourages the submission of comments and information by “tenants, prospective tenants, tenants’ rights and housing advocacy groups, industry participants (including property managers, commercial landlords, individual landlords, and consumer reporting agencies that develop credit and tenant screening reports used by landlords and property managers to screen prospective tenants), other members of the public, and government agencies.”  The RFI is divided into the following four sections that each contain a series of wide-ranging questions:

  • Tenant screening generally
  • Criminal records in tenant screening
  • Eviction records in tenant screening
  • Using algorithms in tenant screening

The CFPB has previously issued two reports on tenant background checks, one discussing consumer complaints received by the CFPB that relate to tenant screening by landlords and the other discussing practices of the tenant screening industry.