For many tenants of rental properties, periodic interactions with a landlord or property manager's representatives are not uncommon. These interactions could include condition inspections, maintenance and repairs, or other responses to tenant inquiries. These scenarios require the individual to enter a tenant's place of residence. How can tenants know they are safe in the presence of such workers?
A new law proposed by Florida legislators seeks to answer that question by implementing a strict background check requirement for all individuals working with access to rental properties on behalf of landlords. Named "Miya's Law," the bill came to be following the murder of a young woman by a maintenance worker who had access to the master key for the complex. After the rejection of his unwanted advances, he allegedly entered the woman's apartment and killed her.
Lawmakers want to curtail the likelihood that such tragic events could occur again. Under the proposal, landlords would need to conduct criminal background screening on anyone with access to an apartment. Anyone with a past criminal charge involving violence or sexual misconduct would be barred from working for such a landlord. Additionally, the law makes check-in and check-out logs for all keys mandatory while expanding the required amount of notice before entry from 12 hours to 24 hours.
Although there is often controversy surrounding the use of such checks in housing, this new proposal is not a tenant background check — even though the perpetrator of the crime was also a resident at the complex. Instead, it imposes new requirements on the property management industry itself.
Should the Florida legislature choose to adopt the proposed bill into law, many rental agencies and property management firms will need to re-evaluate their hiring policies and procedures. As currently written, Miya's Law would apply only to new hires, so existing employees may enjoy being "grandfathered in" without the need to submit to a new national background check. For all newcomers, however, the right tools will be essential.
Miya's Law requires landlords hiring additional help to conduct a fully national search that includes checks of both criminal history databases and sexual offender registries for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. While that may seem like a daunting task, advanced electronic screening products such as the US OneSEARCH by backgroundchecks.com makes quick work of this exhaustive search. A detailed report provided almost instantly means that landlords need not worry about lengthy hiring delays and short-staffing due to the new requirement.
While the proposed law is in its formative stages, landlords and property managers alike should consider reviewing their current policies and hiring procedures. Safe hiring practices protect both a business and those who rely on its services. With potential changes on the horizon, getting ahead of the curve by adopting more robust policies can lead to easier compliance and better results later.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments