Who Can See Rental Property Credit Check?

Can a real estate agent or property management company share a credit check application with the rental property owner?

As the owner of a larger Philadelphia property management company, I often find myself diving deep into the nuances of property management, especially when it comes to legal and ethical practices. The latest episode from the Grow Real Estate Investing Podcast offered a fascinating insight into a question that many landlords and property managers might find themselves pondering: the legalities and ethics of handling tenant applications and IDs post-lease approval.

In this blog post, I aim to shed some light on this complex issue, drawing from the podcast's discussion, while emphasizing the importance of adhering to legal standards and respecting privacy. Our goal is to navigate these waters with a blend of caution and conscientiousness, ensuring we serve our clients and tenants with integrity and professionalism.

The Inquiry at Hand

A listener, John, brought up an intriguing scenario. He used a realtor to secure a tenant for his rental property and later wanted to obtain the tenant's ID and application documents from the realtor, post-lease approval. His question delves into the realm of privacy protection and whether such a request is legal and ethical.

The Legal Landscape

The heart of this matter lies within the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This federal law is designed to ensure the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. When a landlord or property manager runs a credit or background check, they are granted access to sensitive information under strict conditions that respect the tenant's privacy.

A Closer Look at Privacy Protocols

The podcast highlighted a crucial point: when a tenant permits a credit check, they are specifically allowing the individual or entity conducting the check to review their personal information. This doesn't extend to sharing that information with others, not even within the same company, without explicit consent. The process is taken seriously, with regular audits to ensure compliance with secure handling and storage of personal information.

Sharing Information: A Gray Area

When it comes to sharing the results of these checks with property owners, the waters become murky. The essence of the podcast's message is clear: the information obtained through these checks is intended for the eyes of the individual who ran the check. This protects the tenant's privacy and ensures that their sensitive information isn't disseminated beyond what's necessary for the application process.

However, this stance poses a challenge for landlords who wish to understand the basis of tenant approval or denial. The podcast's speaker, lacking a definitive legal position on this matter, leans towards erring on the side of caution and respect for privacy.

Practical Advice for Landlords and Property Managers

The discussion offered practical advice for those navigating this situation. If a landlord or property manager finds themselves in need of this information, the best course of action is direct communication with the tenant. Asking the tenant for copies of the documents might be the most straightforward and respectful approach, aligning with both legal obligations and ethical considerations.

Ethical Property Management: Our Stance

As a Philadelphia property management company, we are steadfast in our commitment to ethical practices, respecting both the law and the privacy of tenants. This scenario underscores the importance of transparent communication and understanding the boundaries of legal and ethical information sharing.

We advocate for an approach that respects tenant privacy while ensuring landlords are informed and confident in their property management decisions. This balance is crucial in fostering trust and transparency in the landlord-tenant relationship.

Conclusion: Navigating Legalities with Integrity

The complexities surrounding the sharing of tenant applications and IDs post-approval highlight the intricate balance between legal requirements and ethical considerations in property management. As we navigate these challenges, our focus remains on upholding the highest standards of privacy, security, and professionalism.

We encourage open dialogue, continued education, and a proactive approach to understanding the legal landscape. By doing so, we ensure that our practices not only comply with the law but also reflect our core values of respect, integrity, and transparency.

For landlords and property managers, navigating these issues with care and consideration is paramount. We are committed to providing the resources, guidance, and support needed to manage rental properties successfully and ethically. Together, we can build a more informed, respectful, and thriving rental community in Philadelphia.

In closing, let's continue to share insights, ask questions, and seek clarity on legal matters, fostering an environment of continuous learning and improvement. Your insights and experiences enrich our community, driving us toward best practices in Philadelphia property management and beyond.


Joe White

Joe White is a Philadelphia Property Manager and Real Estate Broker. He is the owner of Grow Property Management and has been involved in the management, sales and purchases of Philadelphia area rental investment properties since 2008. He is an author and works as a real estate investment consultant and construction manager.

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