As one of the busiest cities on the East Coast, Boston has plenty of opportunities for young and old alike. When it comes to rental properties in Boston, landlords have all kinds of reasons to pay attention to the laws and regulations that affect how they do business. Boston tenant screening laws help landlords fill units the right way. It also helps keep the process fair and efficient.
This post can help Boston landlords learn about:
- Boston tenant screening laws
- Provide free resources for landlords
- Get familiar with the tenant screening process
- Locate the best tenant screening services
Tenant Screening Boston Laws
Whenever a Boston landlord has a vacancy, they need to abide by the federal, state and municipal laws that govern tenant screening. From the first application to offering the lease agreement to someone, landlords have a responsibility to comply with Boston tenant screening laws.
These are just some of the Boston tenant screening laws currently in effect:
- The city and state don’t set limits on how much landlords can charge for application fees.
- Application fees are not refundable in Boston
- A security deposit is separate from an application fee
Boston tenant screening laws are designed to protect both parties, and more of the regulations can be found here.
Don’t Make This Common Screening Mistake
If Boston landlords want to do a full background check on an applicant, they need one very important thing–a signature of consent. Without a written consent, there’s no way for landlords to run a background check on rental applicants. Any Boston landlords that don’t have a signature won’t be able do a background check on an applicant.
Here’s how it’s done at RentPrep:
See how the top arrow tells applicants that the application fee is not refundable. The bottom arrow indicates the signature line so landlords can run a background check.
Resources for Tenant Screening in Boston
RentPrep has gathered a helpful list of links for you to use in your real estate business. There’s no better way to find top tenants than to use the information here.
- Rental Application PDF – Have every prospective tenant fill out this rental application.*
- Move-In Move-Out checklist – This is helpful for after the tenant screening process to make sure you document the condition of the rental
- Rental Lease Agreement – Once you’ve decided on a tenant you’ll want to draw up a lease. This editable doc is a good starting place.
- Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA – Our screeners here at RentPrep are FCRA certified to ensure compliance on your screening report
- City of Boston Fair Housing and Equity– Excellent source of information on housing anti-discrimination
*Lots of landlords operate under a no blank space policy, which means they deny any incomplete applications. If the application has any blank spaces instead of complete answers, they will no longer consider it as a valid application.
Boston Tenant Screening Process
Sorting through applications can be difficult and somewhat arbitrary if you don’t have a standard to compare them to. When landlords have a Boston tenant screening criteria list, things get easier for them. It’s a list of the qualities they would want in an ideal tenant that they write up and use to compare applications to. The applicants that meet those standards rank highly.
Here’s an example of a Boston tenant screening criteria list:
- Zero evictions
- No smoking
- Credit score above 600
- Income to rent ratio: at least 3:1
- Held current job for at least 6 months
- No criminal history
- One pet under 15 lbs accepted
- No bankruptcies
When creating a tenant screening list, Boston landlords must be careful not to discriminate against protected classes. Metro areas like Boston usually have stricter anti-discrimination laws than the rest of their state, so landlords need to be up to speed on what to do. This Boston website provides excellent discrimination information for the city. Also, landlords can brush up on federal housing discrimination issues at the hud.gov website.
More about Boston tenant screening laws:
- Landlords can charge whatever they want for an application fee.
- It’s illegal for landlords to deny applicants based on protected class criteria.
- Landlords are fine to deny an application that doesn’t meet their personal screening criteria, outside of protected classes.
Landlords need to be familiar with Boston’s landlord/tenant laws, and this website is an excellent resource.
Check Out Your Massachusetts Screening Guide
In many cases cities have their own screening rules and regulations while the state has another set of rules that govern the screening process.
Click here to go to our post on “Massachusetts Tenant Screening Process.”
Master Tenant Screening Tutorial
In this tenant screening tutorial you’ll find a complete step-by-step guide on how to screen tenants.
This will walk you through the entire process from start to finish.
It is broken up into 10 chapters to make it easy for you to follow along.
Finding the Right Tenant Screening Services
When landlords have narrowed down the top application, it’s time to run a background check. This means finding the right tenant screening service to do the job. The best tenant screening services provide in-depth reports for a modest fee.
Boston landlords need a tenant screening company that provides info on:
- All previous addresses
- Every evictions
- Any judgments and liens
Getting the background check report can help landlords make that final decision on whether or not to offer a lease. The Boston tenant screening process matches up landlords with great applicants, which in turn are the lowest risk for being bad tenants.
At RentPrep, we have experience with over 21,000 landlords over the past 10 years. Check out our tenant screening packages to see the services we offer.
Our FCRA certified screeners will put your mind at ease by providing the best tenant screening report available.