WILMOTH Inbox- Can I Make Rental Applicants Pass A Drug Screening Test?

From our Inbox- questions from rental owners who may be self managing or under management with WILMOTH or another company.

Dear WILMOTH,

I've had a lot of problems with tenants in my duplex.  Lots of complaints of people coming and going and loud parties at all hours.  Then apparently, one side was arrested for possession of narcotics and now that unit is sitting empty.

So, I am considering changing my normal application process to include passing a drug screening.  Employers can do that when hiring people, why shouldn't a landlord?

What do you think?  Why have I not heard of rental owners doing this with their applicants?

Thank You!

Struggling Landlord

Dear Struggling Landlord,

Yes, unfortunately we have had the same experience.  It seems totally logical that drug screening for this issue should be something a housing provider could do.  Particularly if employers are able to do so.

The reason we don't do drug screening?  Housing providers are covered under a federal law called the Fair Housing Act.  The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of housing or housing related activities based on disability, among other protected classes.

Who are people with disabilities?  There is the normal list of people that most of us know and respect and would never discriminate against.  You might be surprised to learn that a person with a disability also includes individuals with drug or alcohol addiction.  So, if you implement a drug screening policy you may subject yourself to discriminating against applicants with this disability!

These are the little know challenges that many self-managing landlords face.  Often the decision to hire a professional manager comes down to not wanting to worry that you might violate a law in an area that you have little knowledge.   There are many of those.  We are here to help if you have more questions.

If you have a question about rental properties or management send it to PM@WILMOTHGroup.com

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