Rejection Letter Language & Fair Housing

7 Replies

Check with the requirements for your jurisdiction.

We are fortunate in Washington State because we are required to send an "Adverse Action Notice" and the items in it are defined. Doesn't matter if the applicant is Section 8 or not. If they don't meet our minimum criteria to rent we can reject their application. We are also required to provide applicants with our rental criteria prior to taking their application, so if they see they will not qualify they can choose not to apply. We just check the appropriate boxes and do not need to go into detail. Note: in our local jurisdiction, city ordinance does not allow us to discriminate based on source of income and we must consider the value of the Section 8 voucher as income. We actually have had a very good experience with the S8 program and some of our longest term tenants have S8 vouchers. The key is in using the same rental criteria and application process with all prospective renters and to making sure your rental criteria is compliant with non-discrimination law and fair housing law.

Here is the wording from the "Adverse Action Notice" that we use. RCW refers to Revised Code of Washington, so you can eliminate that if you choose to borrow from this document:

ADVERSE ACTION NOTICE (RCW 19.182.110 & RCW 59.18.257)

Applicant Name ___________

Mailing Address ___________

This notice is to inform you that your application to rent the property located at __________ has been:

[   ] Rejected

[   ] Approved with conditions:

[   ] Residency requires an increased monthly rent of $_____

[   ] Residency requires increased [   ] fee or [   ] deposit of $_____

[   ] Residency requires last month's rent.

[   ] Residency requires a qualified guarantor.

[   ] Other requirement: __________

Adverse action on your application was based on one or more of the following:

[   ] Information contained in a consumer credit report.*

[   ] The consumer credit report did not contain sufficient information.*

[   ] Information received in a criminal record.

[   ] Information received in a civil record.

[   ] Information received from references.

[   ] Information received from previous rental history or housing reference.

[   ] Information received from employment verification or income verification.

[   ] Inaccurate, false, or misleading statements or missing critical information on application.

*If you were rejected based on a consumer credit report, you can request a copy of your credit report free from the below-checked ageny.

[   ] Experian, P.O. Box 9556, Allen TX 75013, 1-888-397-3742 or 1-888-211-0728

[   ] Exquifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta GA 30374, 1-888-202-4025

[   ] TransUnion, Customer Relations, P.O. Box 2000, Chester PA 19022, 1-800-888-4213

Dated this ____ day of ___________, 20_____.

Agent/Owner Signature: _______________

Originally posted by @Brandon Sturgill :

I am about to issue 20+ rejection letters to section 8 applicants on a rental property- what is the most appropriate way to do this? Thoughts?

I'm surprised by the number of rejection letters you are preparing! Although we have a rejection letter that we can use, we rarely need to send a rejection letter because we provide prospective renters with enough information ahead of time so they don't need to waste their time and money applying if they can see they will not meet our minimum criteria to rent.

If someone fills out our application and hands it to me, I will first verify their ID, then I will look over the application and quickly identify anything that is amiss. If the application is incomplete, I inform the applicant. If I notice something on the application that will disqualify them, I point it out and give them a chance to either provide me with more information or withdraw their application. That way it doesn't waste their time and it doesn't waste my time.

We feel it is unethical to knowingly accept an application with an application fee, if we readily see something that will disqualify the applicant and have not pointed this out to the applicant and allowed them the chance to withdraw their application.

Are you rejecting these applicants because they have a Section 8 program voucher and you do not participate in the S8 program? Or is it for another reason?

Originally posted by @Brandon Sturgill :

Hey @Marcia Maynard I don't charge an application fee...I don't send them through Trans Union unless they seem like a good fit...this property always draws a crowd..over 30 applications this time...just wanted to notify some folks so they can move on.

Is it customary in your jurisdiction not to charge an application fee? How do you compensate yourself for your time and effort and hard costs? A no application fee policy will inevitably lead to an onslaught of applications and more people who want to view the property, including those less likely to qualify. Seems like it is creating more work for you.

We too won't do the credit check and legal background check until we have reviewed the application and see the tenant as a good fit. If we find something that will disqualify them before we have spent the money for the credit/legal checks, then we will contact them and give them the opportunity to withdraw their application and receive a refund of all or part of their application fee.

You could choose to process the applications quickly and select a tenant. Then call the other applicants to thank them for their interest and to inform them you have selected another applicant, but wish them the best. That would be more timely. Then follow it up with a letter.