FACT SHEET: Make the Rental Application Process More Transparent

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

Support HB1651(Price)

The Problem:

A hidden aspect the housing affordability crisis is the cost on tenants applying for rental housing. Despite widespread use of tenant screening reports, there is no uniform screening criteria, which leaves tenants guessing whether they will qualify for a rental.

  • Different landlords have varying rules about acceptable criminal records. While one may reject only those tenants who have felony convictions, others might reject any tenant with any type of conviction in the past five years.
  • Landlords differ in their approach to past evictions; some reject tenants who have any eviction filings on their records, even if they have no judgments for eviction, and others rejecting only those tenants whose records include eviction judgments.
  • Some landlords charge the maximum allowable application fee for each adult that will be on the lease, while others charge considerably less.
  • Some landlords will only approve tenants if they earn 3x the monthly rental amount and others have minimal income requirements.

Without knowing landlords’ eligibility criteria or even what will appear on their tenant screening reports, tenant are left guessing as to which landlords will accept them. Landlords can charge a non-refunded $50 application fee for each adult on the application, plus out of pocket expenses. This leaves with the option of either paying hundreds of dollars on application fees for rentals that do not qualify for or to apply only for less desirable places.

HB1651‘s Solution:

HB1651 adds transparency by requiring landlords to make their application fees and tenant screening policies available to the public. This will allow tenants to review the information and make a well-informed decision about where to apply for rental housing.

If a landlord does not make their application fees and screening policies public, tenant applicants can recover any application fees, deposits, or other costs associated with the application.


For more information:
Christie Marra (christie@vplc.org)
Laura Dobbs (laura@vplc.org)
To see our other fact sheets and take action, visit our Session Action Center here.

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