SACRAMENTO,CA – More than two years into the pandemic, California’s rental market has become extremely tight for prospective tenants, with prices skyrocketing and limited availability. Many rental shoppers are required by landlords to pay fees ranging from $25 to $55 per adult for credit checks, employment verifications and criminal background reports.
Application fees for rental housing create additional cost burdens for renters seeking new housing, often resulting in people of color taking on a greater financial burden due to the application fees. In an effort to reduce this cost burden, Assemblymember Chris Ward introduced AB 2559 to standardize reusable screening reports for rental applicants that can be used multiple times within a 30-day window.
“The competition in the rental marker is fierce, and sometimes, there can be 30 or more applicants for one unit,” Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego) said. “People are having to apply to multiple units to try and secure a place to live and that can add up to hundreds of dollars. AB 2559 will allow would-be tenants to pay one fee and use one screening report for multiple rental applications, as well as verify that the information on the screening report is accurate.”
AB 2559 will standardize reusable screening reports in California and allow landlords who wish to accept the reports to receive them from a third-party company that provides the service. The reusable screening reports would include name, contact information, eviction history, employment, rental history, and last known address. The tenant is not able to tamper with the report contents, but does have the opportunity to review the report for accuracy and dispute any errors with the tenant screening company. Additionally, landlords could publicize whether reusable screening reports are accepted during the application process.
In 2019, the State of Washington and in 2021 the State of Maryland passed legislation to allow landlords to accept reusable screening reports. According to the Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Report for 2022, 26% of U.S. renters who moved in the past two years listed multiple application fees as the top stressor of a rental search.
AB 2559 will make rental properties more accessible to renters, while saving landlords save time and effort in collecting fees and purchasing the reports.