Florida’s Tenant Screening Laws: What Landlords Can and Can’t Do – Guest Post

Tenant Screening Laws

Picture this: You’re a landlord in the vibrant state of Florida, where sandy shores and diverse communities converge. As you seek the perfect tenant to fill your rental property, there’s a roadmap you must follow – one that ensures fairness, legality, and respect. Welcome to the world of tenant screening laws in Florida, where understanding the rules of engagement is paramount. In this guide, we’ll simplify the complexities and shed light on what landlords can and can’t do when screening potential tenants. From avoiding discrimination to conducting thorough checks, we’ll be your compass in the realm of Florida’s tenant screening landscape. So, whether you’re an experienced landlord or stepping into this role for the first time, let’s unravel the threads of tenant screening laws and ensure a smooth and lawful journey ahead.

  1. Fair Housing Basics

Florida, like the rest of the United States, adheres to the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. As a landlord, it’s essential to treat all applicants equally and avoid any form of bias during the tenant screening process.

  1. Application Fees

While landlords in Florida are allowed to charge application fees to cover the costs of screening potential tenants, these fees must be reasonable and non-discriminatory. Charging excessive fees or using them as a profit source is against the law.

  1. Criminal Background Checks

Landlords in Florida have the right to conduct criminal background checks on potential tenants. However, it’s important to note that denying someone based solely on their criminal record can be considered discriminatory, especially if the conviction isn’t directly related to the safety of the property or other residents.

  1. Credit Checks

Credit checks are a standard practice in tenant screening. Landlords can request credit reports from applicants and use the information to assess their financial responsibility. However, it’s important to treat all applicants equally and apply consistent criteria when evaluating creditworthiness.

  1. Eviction Records

Landlords can inquire about an applicant’s eviction history as part of the tenant screening process. However, just as with criminal records, a history of eviction alone shouldn’t be the sole reason for denial.

  1. Income and Rental History

Verifying an applicant’s income and rental history helps landlords assess their ability to pay rent consistently. While you have the right to inquire about income sources, it’s essential to apply the same criteria to all applicants and avoid discriminatory practices.

  1. Pet Policies and Service Animals

Florida landlord-tenant law allows landlords to set pet policies, including fees and restrictions. However, if an applicant has a disability and requires a service animal, landlords must make reasonable accommodations to allow the animal, even if the property has a “no pets” policy.

  1. Tenant Privacy

Throughout the tenant screening process, it’s crucial to respect the applicant’s privacy and protect their personal information. Ensure that sensitive data, such as social security numbers and financial details, are kept secure and used only for screening purposes.

  1. Providing Denial Notices

If an applicant is denied based on information obtained during the screening process, landlords in Florida are required to provide a written notice that includes the specific reasons for the denial. This transparency ensures that applicants understand the basis of their denial and can address any inaccuracies.


In the intricate dance of tenant screening, staying in step with Florida’s landlord-tenant law is your key to success. By adhering to the guidelines presented in this guide, you’re not only safeguarding your legal standing but also contributing to a rental environment that’s founded on fairness and equity. Remember, every applicant has a story, and your role as a landlord is to evaluate them through the lens of consistent criteria that uphold the principles of non-discrimination. With a firm grasp of Florida’s tenant screening laws, you’re prepared to navigate the journey of finding responsible and reliable tenants while respecting their rights and your legal obligations. Here’s to building a landlord-tenant relationship grounded in transparency, respect, and adherence to Florida’s tenant screening laws.

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