Tenant screening usually involves a credit, criminal and income check as well as your rental history. This information is processed and the landlord or property management company approves your application or doesn’t. Simple right? Well, fast forward to 2015 and the world of social media. I have heard and read about prospective tenants being asked for their Twitter handle or if they are on Facebook. I can only imagine their reaction and anxiety! Knowing that someone would be “judging” them on posts and pictures. Truthfully, at first I thought that this cannot be legal and a total invasion of privacy. I did some of my own research and if the landord or property management companies do this, they have to make sure that they do it for every application. They have to be fair, nondiscriminatory and apply their screening requirements uniformly. The screener may disagree with a person’s political beliefs or life choices that have nothing to do with whether or not they will be a good renter, so they do have to be careful if they do use social media. But, if you post on social media you take the risk of anyone seeing your online presence! You just never thought that the cumulative identity that you have been presenting on the Internet could be used as a screening tool. When most people consider social media at all, they usually dismiss it as a casual past time, a lark or ways to keep in touch with friends and family. Millennials like to pretend that social media doesn’t matter, even as they lurk among the tweets and Instagrams of friends or deliberately planting witty tweets and goofy selfies for the world to see. Some landlords and property managers have blown the lid off of the whole thing by acknowledging that they are going to look at this evidence on social media as part of the screening process. But, truth be told, we all have “Googled” a person to find out a bit more about them. Is this really any different?
So, when you finally have your application approved and are signing the lease agreement with your landlord, you may be surprised to learn that they already know a lot about you!