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Landlords have the right to set specific tenant selection criteria which can include bankruptcy filing as a reason for rejection of the application. Federal fair housing laws do not include a protected class for financial status. If the landlord’s criterion is rejection of every applicant who has filed bankruptcy and the criterion is applied to every applicant without discrimination, the rejection of the application is a legitimate business decision by the landlord.
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However, some landlords set financial criterion that allows some flexibility in evaluating bankruptcy filings. These landlords may give greater importance to the applicant’s credit management history since the bankruptcy filing. For example, a bankruptcy filing will stay on the applicant’s credit record for seven to ten years, depending on Chapter filed under.
If the applicant is nearing the end of the record period, and the bankruptcy has been fully discharged, the landlord, while still taking the bankruptcy into account, may focus on the most recent year period of credit history (for instance, the last three or four years.) The landlord may elect to offer tenancy based on acceptance of conditions such as a co-signer or guarantor, a higher security deposit (as allowable by state statute), or a shorter-term lease. The landlord is still bound by fair housing laws and cannot discriminate by selectively offering different terms to different applicants.
There is another consideration in that, assuming an applicant has adequate income, he should be more credit worthy after a bankruptcy than before. First, discharged old debts will no longer have a claim on future income. Second, bankruptcy cannot be filed again for a number of years.