Electronic age ushers in new era of tenant screening

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Q: I was turned down for an apartment after the landlord ran my rental application, since I had bounced a check last year. How did they know? What else can they find out? A: Welcome to the 21st century of data retrieval. With the evolving use of the Internet to retrieve a variety of information, landlords can find out a host of personal data. How did they know about yours? By using one or more screening services available to most landlords through various apartment owner associations. According to John Galbraith, communications director for the California Apartment Association (CAA), "Fair housing practices start with the application process," Galbraith explains. The CAA recommends landlords screen all applicants equally and offers members a host of resident screening services. What kinds of facts are available for a landlord to check? A virtual cornucopia of options exists today. Choices range from the basic "just credit" to a complete data search designed to uncover past evictions, c...