If a landlord runs a background check on a tenant, is the tenant entitled to a copy of it?

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If a landlord runs a background check on a tenant, is the tenant entitled to a copy of it?

I paid a $40 deposit for some sort of background check and submitted it with the application to a real estate agent who in turn passed it to the company that will manage the property. I googled the management company and discovered dreadful reviews/reputation and withdrew the application. I requested a copy of the background check report which I was told the management firm had already received back. I was told it would be e-mailed to me and that I “passed” . Now the management company refuses to turn over the background report on me which I paid for claiming that the report is “private.” It’s my private information and there is no reason no to withhold it. Is this a scam?

Asked on January 6, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In some states (i.e. CA), if requested, an applicant must be shown a copy of their credit report, whether they are denied credit or not.  Additionally, a copy of the credit report must be provided to the applicant (unless they weren't charged a screening fee). If a landlord declines to rent to an applicant, they are entitled to a free credit report from the applicable credit reporting agency (e.g. Equifax, Experian, TransUnion).

To check the law in your area, contact a local tenant's rights organization, Legal Aid, or any local law school clinics that might be nearby.  You can also consult with a private attorney as to your rights in this situation.


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