Landlords in Florida could soon be required to show residents' proof of employee background checks. Per a report from Tallahassee’s Capitol News Service, state legislators are considering a bill to make apartment complex landlords more accountable for the people they employ.
The measure is meant to protect tenants. Bill sponsor and Senator Greg Steube claims residential tenants—particularly at large apartment complexes—often know nothing about the people working on the premises. Many of these employees, such as maintenance staff, have access to units throughout the property. Steube stated tenants should know if they are living in a place where a registered sex offender or convicted criminal might be able to get into their home.
Steube’s proposed legislation, the Tenant Notification Act, would give tenants greater peace of mind. If it becomes law, the bill will require landlords to provide tenants with written notification anyone with access to their apartments has undergone a background check. If landlords don’t run background checks or fail to provide the required notification, tenants will have legal grounds to cancel their leases. The law is unique from most landlord-related background check laws, which typically require landlords to vet their candidates.
There is some debate about the bill. While tenants like the idea of learning more about the people who might have keys to their property, some landlords claim the law would infringe upon the privacy of their employees. One landlord quoted in the Capital News Service piece said he already runs background screenings on all employees but wouldn’t feel comfortable showing that information to tenants.
Another potential concern with the law is it might present tenants with a false sense of security. The proposed legislation recommends all landlords conduct “Level One background checks” on their employees, for a cost of $24 per person. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the term “Level One background check” in Florida generally refers to a state-only name-based check and employment history check. In other words, the check would likely only include criminal records reported to the state repository. It would lack information from counties that do not reliably report to this database and would include nothing about convictions from outside the state.
At backgroundchecks.com, our “level one” background check—also known as our “Basic” package—includes a search of our multi-jurisdictional criminal record database, a search of national sex offender registries and terrorist watch lists, an alias and address history check, and a Social Security Number validation. This check is considerably broader than a state-only check but is still not comprehensive: our multi-jurisdictional database includes 550 million criminal records but does not incorporate all counties.
The best strategy for screening an employee is to start with a county background check in the area where that person lives and supplement with additional county, state, federal, and multi-jurisdictional checks. Employers can also employment verifications or civil history checks, which are available a la carte from backgroundchecks.com.