utah rental housing journal - june 2015
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DESCRIPTIONRHJ is the business journal for the Utah multifamily and rental housing industry.
June 2015 - Vol. 7 Issue 6Rental Housing Journal Utah
WWW.RENTALHOUSINGJOURNAL.COM PROFESSIONAL PUBLISHING, INC
Official PublicatiOn Of the utah aPartment assOciatiOn utah's leading advOcate fOr the rental hOusing industry 888-244-0401 www.uaahq.Org
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In 1995 Western Reporting be-gan as a full service background screening company for small apartment owners and independent rental owners. Today, the company provides over 150 services includ-ing Credit & Criminal Background Screening, Drug Testing, Social Se-curity Number Verifications, Em-ployment Verifications, Tenant Scorecards, Business Verifications and more. Western Reporting has evolved through the years to become one of the largest and most respected background screening companies in the country.
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Supreme Court Rules on Disparate Impact
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The United States Supreme Court ruled, in June, support-ing disparate impact liability under the Fair Housing Act, a legal theory that prohibits neutrally-ap-plied practices with a dispropor-tionate impact on minority groups protected by the law, even without proving an intent to discriminate. The 5-4 decision in Texas Depart-ment of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. also emphasized limita-tions on the policy, stating that neu-trally-applied practices should not fail on disparate impact grounds un-less they are artificial, arbitrary and unnecessary.
Importantly, the majority opinion highlighted limitations on disparate impact liability to allow practical business choices and profit-related decisions that sustain the free-enter-prise system. Leeway must be given to housing providers to explain the validity of their policies. Further, a disparate impact claim is not demon-strated by statistical disparity alone. A claim must show that a challenged practice actually caused a disparate impact on a protected group, and the availability of an alternative prac-tice that has less disparate impact to serve legitimate business needs.
According to Ballard Spahr, a law firm specializing in Fair Housing liti-gation, the court said that a party bringing a disparate impact claim
must establish robust causation by providing statistical or other evi-dence that a policy directly caused a disparate impact. Justice Kennedy found that such a robust causality requirement ensures that racial im-balanceand protects defendants from being held liable for racial dis-parities they did not create. Indeed the court also stated that a mere one time decision that may cause a dis-parate impact does not constitute a policy, and stressed that while courts may take race into account in determining disparate impact, race can never be a controlling update.
The National Apartment Associa-tion and Utah Apartment Associa-tion have been watching these dispa-rate impact cases closely. The big fear was that fair housing advocates have started making claims that if crimi-nal background criteria have a dis-parate impact or disproportionately negative impact on minorities, that we may no longer be allowed to use prior criminal history as a rental cri-teria. The ruling, while allowing dis-parate impact in some cases, is pretty clear that landlords can make busi-
ness and profit related choices that sustain the free enterprise system.
Im going to tell all my clients and members of the Utah Apartment Association to not change anything, says Kirk Cullimore, landlord at-torney. He points to language in the decision A disparate-impact claim relying on a statistical disparity must fail if the plaintiff cannot point to a defendants policy or policies caus-ing that disparity.
Policies, whether governmental or private, are not contrary to the disparate-impact requirement un-less they are artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary barriers. Courts should avoid interpreting disparate-impact liability to be so expansive as to in-ject racial considerations into every housing decision. These limitations are also necessary to protect defen-dants against abusive disparate-im-pact claims. If a statistical discrepan-cy is caused by factors other than the defendants policy, a plaintiff cannot establish a prima facie case, and there is no liability.
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Im going to tell all my clients and
members of the Utah Apartment
Association to not change anything,
2 Rental Housing Journal Utah June 2015
RENTAL HOUSING JOURNAL UTAH
One of the things people find just phenomenal, say Bryan Mower, CEO, is that is in over 20 years we have never been sued for negligent hiring or tenancy. That just doesnt happen. Bryan says the reason for this is Westerns commitment to ac-curacy and meticulous observance of internal systems. We care about the data our clients get. Its our name on it, he says, but even more than that its the clients business and credibil-ity on the line. That really makes us careful, he says.
Bryan says that his two core com-petencies, employment screening and tenant screening, each constitute about half of his business but that his real passion is in tenant screening. Ive seen the damage, financially and psychologically that bad ten-ants can do to landlords and we are passionate about helping landlords have the knowledge to make correct decisions.
In employment screening, West-ern has served very large clients like the University of Utah and the LDS church as well as small companies and property management compa-nies. In tenant screening Western serves a large number of indepen-dent landlords and large apartment communities.
One of the areas Bryan is most excited about is his private label ser-vice. We take a company or an apart-
ment association, he says, and set up a site that looks like theirs and then share revenue with them. Last year our private label service with associations made them hundreds of thousands of dollars, including over $50,000 here in Utah. Thats revenue the association can use to further its mission and better serve landlords.
Some of the other services West-ern Provides includes:
Web Hosting Simplified Web Hosting with multiple easy to use property listing templates.
Advertising, SEO, Analytics Advertising based on analytics that DELIVERs more applicants for half the cost.
Applicant To Property Match Online software that pre-screens and matches applicants to your available properties based on your and their requirements.
Yard Signs Yard sign with single phone number delivering Near Human detailed property recording and providing links to your website or online applications. Eliminates time wasting inquiry calls and turns Drive Bys into tenants!
Online Showing Scheduling (Attended or Non-Attended) With Electronic Lockbox Schedule showing and have
Lockbox code remotely changed from your cell phone.
Online Applications and Custom Lease Document Creation Management tool gathers accurate information and tracks applicant through onboarding process. Huge time savings in gathering documentation and lease creation.
Tenant Credit and Background Screening Highest quality screening with Tenant Scorecard
Automated Denial Letters System created and delivered Denial letters.
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To contact Western Reporting: 800-466-1996 or
Western Reporting ...continued from page 1
www.uaahq.org Office: 801-487-5619 Toll Free: 888-244-0401 448 E. Winchester (6400 S.), Suite 460 Salt Lake City, Utah 84107
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