On September 13, Governor Newsom signed into law AB 2559, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Ward, “to standardize reusable screening reports (RTSR) for rental applicants that can be used multiple times within a 30-day window.”
Their purpose is to reduce a tenant’s cumulative financial burden of rental application screening fees, which may be as much as $53 per application. Housing providers who choose to accept RTSRs will not be able to charge the applicant a fee for access to the report or an application screening fee. California joins Washington and Maryland as states that have passed such legislation.
What is a “Reusable Tenant Screening Report?”
In the context of AB 2559, the term refers to “a report prepared within the previous 30 days by a consumer reporting agency at the request and expense of a rental applicant. The RTSR must include:
- The results of a criminal history check for the seven years preceding the date on which the consumer reporting agency received the request for the RTSR.
- The results of an eviction history check for the seven years preceding the date on which the consumer reporting agency received the request for the RTSR.
- Verification of employment
- Last known address
It’s unclear whether the RTSR will always be received by the property provider directly from the screening agency, as it is highly unlikely that owners would accept reports directly from tenants. It’s worth noting that the bill originally called for the process to be mandatory. It is likely this measure will be revisited with changes in the future, as it’s not well thought out.
At the May 3, 2022, hearing of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection, Chairman Jesse Gabriel warned that the bill requiring seven years of criminal and eviction history information may conflict with legislation prohibiting criminal record disclosures. Also, he thought that the disclosure requirements when advertising units for rent will discourage owners from opting into the RTSR program.
In summary, AB 2559 establishes criteria for the voluntary acceptance of RTSRs by owners and specifies the applicant information that must be included in the report. It also requires a housing provider who elects to accept RTSRs to provide a rental applicant with notice in a manner reasonably calculated to inform applicants that he/she accepts RTSRs.
It seems doubtful that housing providers will choose to receive RTSRs given the complexities of advertising units for rent and the fear of breaching current criminal records disclosures.
Reprinted with permission of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute (SPOSFI) News. For more information on becoming a member of SPOSFI or to send a tax-deductible donation, please visit their website at www.smallprop.org or call (415) 647-2419.