Can a landlord run a background check without permission?

It's important to be aware of the legal requirements surrounding tenant background checks, both at the federal and state levels. One key requirement is obtaining written consent from the tenant before conducting a background check. In this article, we'll explore the federal law known as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and how it requires landlords to obtain written consent for tenant background checks. We'll also delve into state-level laws that may impose additional requirements on landlords when it comes to obtaining written consent for tenant background checks.

April 10, 2023

5 min read


Informational only; not legal advice.

Federal laws for landlords conducting tenant background checks

Federal laws, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), govern the use of consumer reports, which can include background checks, and impose certain requirements on landlords who use them. Under the FCRA, landlords are generally required to obtain written consent from tenants or prospective tenants before obtaining a consumer report, including a background check, from a consumer reporting agency. Landlords are also required to provide certain disclosures and follow specific procedures when conducting tenant screenings.

In addition to federal laws, there may be state or local laws that impose additional requirements on landlords when conducting background checks, including obtaining consent from tenants or prospective tenants. It's important for landlords to be familiar with the applicable laws and regulations in their specific jurisdiction and comply with them to ensure that they are conducting background checks in a legally compliant manner and protecting the rights and privacy of tenants. If you have questions or concerns about tenant background checks, it's advisable to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney or relevant legal authority in your area.

States that require written approval for tenant background checks

All 50 states have relevant laws or civil codes requiring landlords to obtain written permission from prospective tenants to run a background check. The specific language vaires by state, and many states have additional requirements for landlords to meet in the tenant background check process.

  • Alabama: Alabama Code § 35-9A-421
  • Alaska: Alaska Statutes § 34.03.220(b)
  • Arizona: Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1318(A)(1)
  • Arkansas: Arkansas Code Annotated § 18-17-604(a)
  • California: Delaware Code, specifically Title 6, Section 2220
  • Colorado: Colorado Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC), Article 1.3
  • Connecticut: Connecticut Fair Credit Reporting Act (CFCRA); Connecticut General Statutes section 42-470
  • Delaware: Delaware Code, Title 6, Section 2220
  • Florida: Florida Fair Housing Act; Florida Statutes Section 760.40
  • Georgia: Georgia Fair Business Practices Act; Georgia Code Section 10-1-912
  • Hawaii: Hawaii Fair Credit Reporting Act; Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 609-14
  • Idaho: Idaho Consumer Reporting Act; Idaho Code Section 48-14-121
  • Illinois: Illinois Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA); 605 ILCS 10/12
  • Indiana: Indiana Code 32-31
  • Iowa: Iowa Code Chapter 562A
  • Kansas: Kansas Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (K.S.A. 58-2565)
  • Kentucky: Kentucky Revised Statutes § 383.580
  • Louisiana: Louisiana Revised Statutes § 9:3251
  • Maine: Maine Revised Statutes Title 14, Section 6027
  • Maryland: Maryland Code, Real Property § 8-218
  • Massachusetts: Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 186, Section 15B
  • Michigan: Michigan Compiled Laws § 554.631
  • Minnesota: Minnesota Statutes § 504B.177
  • Mississippi: Mississippi Code § 89-8-13
  • Missouri: Missouri Revised Statutes § 535.300
  • Montana: Montana Code Annotated § 70-24-312
  • Nebraska: Nebraska Revised Statutes § 76-1416
  • Nevada: Nevada Revised Statutes § 118A.300
  • New Hampshire: New Hampshire Revised Statutes § 540-A:7
  • New Jersey: New Jersey Statutes § 46:8-28
  • New Mexico: New Mexico Statutes § 47-8-37
  • New York: New York Real Property Law § 231-a
  • North Carolina: North Carolina General Statutes § 42-42
  • North Dakota: North Dakota Century Code § 47-16-08
  • Ohio: Ohio Revised Code § 5321.13
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act § 41-115
  • Oregon: Oregon Revised Statutes § 90.295
  • Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 68, Section 250.511
  • Rhode Island: Rhode Island General Laws § 34-18-26
  • South Carolina: South Carolina Code of Laws § 27-40-420
  • South Dakota: South Dakota Codified Laws § 43-32-34
  • Tennessee: Tennessee Code Annotated § 66-28-521
  • Texas: Texas Property Code § 92.015
  • Utah: Utah Code § 57-22-5
  • Vermont: Vermont Statutes Title 9, Section 4467
  • Virginia: Virginia Code § 55.1-1202
  • Washington: Revised Code of Washington § 59.18.257
  • West Virginia: West Virginia Code § 37-6A-2
  • Wisconsin: Wisconsin Statutes § 704.05(4)
  • Wyoming: Wyoming Statutes § 1-21-1206


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