by Jay Goldstein

Philadelphia City Council recently passed legislation for landlords to use uniform screening and acceptance criteria for tenants with past financial problems.

The new legislation, called the Renters’ Access Act, will take effect this Fall.  Some key components of the Act include:

  • Landlords can no longer adopt policies that specifically deny a potential tenant from renting a property solely because of low credit scores, evictions more than four years old, failure to pay rent or utilities during the pandemic, or criminal history.
  • Before a tenant applies for housing and before accepting rental applications, landlords will have to provide tenants with written criteria that will be used to evaluate all potential renters.
  • Rejections will have to be in writing and explain the reason(s) for the denial and tenants will then have the opportunity to dispute incorrect information, explain circumstances, and demonstrate how these circumstances have changed.
  • There is a provision in the legislation that the City revisit the ordinance in 18 months to make sure it is not causing unintended consequences for apartment owners and managers whose businesses depend on responsible renters.

Jay Goldstein commented on this legislative act, “Congratulations to Philadelphia for taking on a leadership role nationally to help its residents have access to affordable, safe and stable housing.  But affordable, safe and stable housing requires that housing owners have a reliable rental stream and a known and workable process to either evict tenants or receive government funding for tenants who are unable to pay rent. The Act’s 18-month review should help achieve this.”