As a general rule of thumb in any consumer transaction, authorization should be included in the body of the application, in plainly visible type, immediately above the signature line or lines. The language should not only permit the landlord to obtain a report but it should also permit the consumer reporting agency of choice to provide a report and should instruct all sources for information including the three national credit bureaus to disclose information relevant to the application.  Any co-applicants on the form should sign the authorization (along with the rental application) as well.

Sample language to be included on the rental application might look like the following:

I/we, the undersigned, do authorize and instruct [LANDLORD] or their designated agent to obtain, now or at any time during my/our rental relationship, any and all credit reports, including any public record information, verifications of information provided or personal references available and either necessary or reasonably prudent to making a residential living decision of this nature or continuing to maintain a residential living relationship, and further authorize and instruct any and all credit reporting agencies, consumer reporting agencies and consumer information sources to provide such reports to LANDLORD or his/her designated agent.

By incorporating similar language into the rental application executed by the tenant, the Landlord is documenting that the tenant gave their permission to the Landlord to obtain credit and other information about the consumer not only at the initial application but throughout the rental relationship.

Want more information on how to comply with the FCRA, or more tips on screening your tenants? Watch our full webinar “Residential Screening – What Every Landlord Should Know.”