Knowing the renter screening laws at the federal, state, and local levels is critical if you want to stay out of legal trouble and perform ethical background checks. There’s much more to screening laws than complying with the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), and it’s important to note that some of Nashville’s tenant screening laws may fall in line with the laws at the state and federal levels. If you’re a landlord looking to rent out your property, here’s a quick guide to Nashville’s tenant screening laws.
It’s important to note that, even though federal laws are national laws, states have the final say in tenant screening laws; states don’t have to comply with every part of every federal law. However, most states act in strict compliance with the federal fair housing laws that protect tenants from discrimination based on race, sexuality, ethnicity, or religion. Refusing to rent to, imposing different prices upon, harassing, or limiting privileges for any of the protected classes is generally considered illegal.
At the state level, landlords need to be aware of a major caveat. The state of Tennessee partially complies with the Mrs. Murphy exemption, which states that if a property has fewer than four units and the owner lives in one of those units, that property is exempt from the FHA. In Tennessee, this exemption is bumped down to two families or a single-family house in which the landlord lives.
At the local level, all the previous statements apply. However, there are some additional laws to be aware of. For example, to run any kind of background check in Nashville, you need consent from the potential tenant. This means that a landlord must have the signature of every applicant on the application to run a background check. In addition, at the city level, the application fee is not limited, is nonrefundable, and is separate from security deposits.
If you have Nashville homes for rent, this quick guide to Nashville’s tenant screening laws should help you find the right tenants while staying in compliance with federal, state, and city laws. If you’re still unsure, contact Excalibur Homes today to get in touch with a property manager to help you with the ins and outs of the screening process.