(Here is an excerpt from
some of Mr. Zehring's training curriculum)
Application Process...You Pick Your Problems
Stopping Crime at the
simple fact that management has a rental application suggests that
management has the right to select who lives in a manufactured housing
rental community. This is an advantage that all housing communities do not
enjoy. But management will enjoy this advantage only if they use it to their advantage.
of “single family home” neighborhoods have no control over who buys a
house and moves in next door to them. The management and owners of a
manufactured housing community need to understand that no one can move
into their rental community without asking for, and receiving permission.
gives managers and owners an awful lot of responsibility. And therefore, liability.
Management has a responsibility to tenants in their community. In
fact, virtually everywhere in the United States, management has a legal
duty to provide a safe environment for their tenants to live in.
If management does not live up to that
responsibility, management may possibly be held liable for the criminal action of others.
For example: if property management allows a convicted sex offender to move into the
rental community and the offender molests a child on the premises,
management may be held civilly liable for his actions.
A few basic screening procedures may
enable management to relieve that liability while at the same time fulfilling their
responsibility to their tenants.
Fair Housing Laws
put, the Federal Fair Housing Laws strictly prohibit any discrimination
against protected classes. Some of those protected classes include, but
are not limited to:
many people are not aware of is that EVERYONE is in a protected class! If you think about it,
everyone has a race, a color, a gender, a
national origin, etc. No one
can discriminate against any applicant based on their color, regardless of
what color they are. No one can be denied residency based on their
national origin, regardless of where they were born.
the fair housing laws protect every applicant, management has one of two
1. Accept every one who applies. I
do not recommend that management does this. (Management must be able to
justify why they refused an applicant. In a discrimination case,
the management has the burden of to prove their action was not discriminatory.)
-- or --
2. Scrutinize applications to be certain
they meet acceptable rental criterion. In order to justify denying an application,
management will have to show that they did
not discriminate against one of the protected classes in their decision.
One of the best ways to protect against fair housing complaints is to have
written rental criteria that every applicant must meet when filling out the rental
written criterion serves two purposes. First, it serves, as a
pre-screening tool to weed out the applicants that will not qualify to
live in the rental community. Second, it gives management set standards
that every applicant must meet. This provides management the proper
justification to deny an application.
In most states,
has the freedom and responsibility to determine what the criteria will be. Management
can make it as lax or strict as they want, as long
as they do not discriminate against one of the protected classes.
Familial status may not apply the same in a 55+ (or adult) community.
It’s Worth The Effort
managers and owners have differing views on how, or if, they should
screen prospective residents. Some have rigid guidelines; others feel that
calling references or checking prospective residents is not worth the
that management actually picks their problem residents. No one can move
into their community unless management allows them to live there. The
severity of the problems management has in their community will depend on
the quality of their criteria, rental application and background
The Crime Free Lease Addendum in the Application
is one example of a Crime Free Addendum, which is signed by rental
MANUFACTURED HOME SPACE RENTAL
CRIME FREE LEASE ADDENDUM
consideration for the execution or renewal of a lease of the space
identified in the lease or rental agreement, Manager or owner and Tenant
agree as follows:
any member(s) of the resident’s household, guests, or any other person
affiliated with the resident, at or near the resident premises:
not engage in the unlawful manufacturing, selling, using, storing, keeping
or giving of an illegal or controlled substance as defined in A.R.S. 13-3451,
at any locations, whether on or near the space.
2. Will not engage in any
illegal activity, including, but not limited to the following:
Prostitution as defined in A.R.S. 13-3211
Criminal street gang activity as defined in A.R.S. 13-105 & 13-2308
Assault as defined in A.R.S. 13-1203
Threatening or intimidating as defined in A.R.S. 13-1202
Criminal damage as defined in A.R.S. 13-1602
Disorderly conduct as defined in A.R.S. 13-2904
Facilitation of a crime as defined in A.R.S. 13-1004
3. A single violation of
any of the provisions of this addendum will be deemed a serious
violation, and a material and an irreparable noncompliance, and will be
good cause for immediate termination of the lease under A.R.S.
33-1476, as provided in A.R.S. 33-1485. Unless otherwise provided by law,
proof of violation will not require a criminal conviction, but will be by
a preponderance of the evidence.
case of conflict between the provisions of this addendum and any other
provisions of the lease, the provisions of this addendum will govern.
Lease Addendum is incorporated into the lease executed or renewed this day
between Manager or Owner and Tenant.
6. I hereby authorize management
to use all police generated reports as direct evidence in all eviction hearings against.
___________________________ Date: ___________
___________________________ Date: ___________
___________________________ Date: ___________
Property Manager’s signature
Name of property: ______________________________
THE APPLICATION FORM
should have a set criterion or standards that they want the residents of
their manufactured housing community to meet. The application form is
their chance to gather information about their future residents. By making
their application clear, concise and thorough, management will be able to
make an informed decision and ensure that their criterion is being met.
is imperative that management carefully reads the entire application
before accepting it, making sure that every question is fully answered. If
the applicant discloses information that does not meet their rental
criteria the application should probably be denied.
accepting the application their job is only half done. The application is
of no use to management if they do not carefully screen or verify the
information. Management should take the time themselves, or hire someone qualified to do a
thorough screening and background check on all of the information
Suggested Criminal History Questions:
should have a keen interest in the people that want to live in their
rental community. No one wants to live next door to a person with a
violent or extensive criminal history.
part of the application process management should ask the applicant, (and
any other people who will be living in the home), about their criminal
history. If they refuse to disclose this information to the management,
they have the option not to rent to them.
It is recommended that management
get as much detailed information as they can. To assist management in gathering this
information, here are sample questions that may be asked on the application:
Have you, or any member of your household:
1. Ever been arrested, cited, prosecuted, plead guilty to, or been convicted of a crime?
2. Ever been placed on probation, parole, or any other release from jail, or prison?
3. Ever been or currently are a member of a gang?
4. Is there a current warrant for the
applicant or any members of their household?
5. Are applicants or any members of their household currently involved in any criminal activity?
6. Ever been evicted or had a forcible detainer filed against you?
7. Ever moved to avoid eviction or because of problems with other tenants or a landlord?
should be sure the applicants explain all “Yes” answers in detail. At
a minimum management should ask if the applicant or any person living in the
home has ever been convicted of a crime. Management should inquire about all crimes, not just
felonies. Many of the crimes that will cause management the most problems
are not felonies. I do not recommend you discriminate against applicants based
on an arrest. This is especially true if the charges were ultimately dropped.
credit reporting agencies will offer to search local or county court
records for criminal data pertaining to their prospective tenants. While many of these
companies make promising claims, the results they get may vary as greatly as the costs.
It is important to "shop
around" for the best results, using a control group of names
currently being processed. In most cases, management will see the best results
from companies that use licensed private investigators, and search
multiple courts and jurisdictions.
most states, material falsification of the information provided on the
rental application, will allow the management to serve a notice to the
resident, terminating the rental agreement.
the residents claims the misinformation was an “honest mistake” but the
corrected information they provide would have disqualified the applicant as well, the manager probably should proceed with the written
the corrected information would have allowed the resident to qualify, the
manager should probably void the notice. Most states allow for an
eviction against a resident who has given untrue or misleading information
on the application pertaining to such things as:
Prior eviction records
Income of prospective resident
Current criminal activity
Social security number
Number of occupants in dwelling unit
Refusing An Application
It is important that management keeps documentation
for the applications that they have refused to approve. This documentation should be kept in the
application file and retained for future use. Along with documentation,
management must be consistent in following the defined criteria and
standards they have set for their manufactured housing community.
that the Fair Housing Laws do not say you have to turn your I.Q. back 30
points, nor do they require that you have to rent to everyone who applies.
The Fair Housing Laws simply prohibit discrimination based on the
applicable protected classes in your area.
COPY, PASTE AND SEE THIS LINK FOR AN IMPORTANT HUD PAPER: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=HUD_OGCGuidAppFHAStandCR.pdf
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intended to provide specific legal advice. Click here.