Posted by Terry Alexander - email
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Landlords have a new tool in their efforts to find the best tenants, but does it come at the price of your personal privacy?
It's called 'do not rent to dot com'. For only $30 landlords can search your name and learn if there is anything in your past that should keep them from renting to you.
"Its a report on your ability to be a good tenant and pay the rent," said Susan Scovill of Housing Opportunities Made Equal.
Do not rent to dot com is a database of tenants who have run into trouble with past landlords. And if you are on the list there isn't much you can do about it.
"You'd have to pay the fee to check to see wether or not there was a record on you and if there was what it said," Scovill said.
The site includes private information about renters like parts of their driver's license and social security numbers. It also gives landlords the chance to provide unedited comments about anything they'd like. An option that concerns representatives of the Housing Opportunities Made Equal organization. It could mean that landlords will use information that has nothing to do with your ability to be a good tenant.
"Things about race, things about the numbers of kids, you know disability issues, then I think you'd see that there is a problem," said Scovill.
But there is nothing illegal about do-not-rent to dot com. Even if the site is used by landlords to settle old scores, that right is protected.
"On the other side of this though is free speech. People have the right to share their opinions," said Kent Willis of Virginia American Civil Liberties Union.
However, just having the right to do something, doesn't mean it will actually become a resource for respectable landlords in search of respectable tenants.
"Lots of these kinds of these places that try this sort of thing work because being people don't trust the information and don't use them," Willis said.
So while it is possible that your name could be on this list, if you want to have the best rental options available to you, the best thing you can do is be a good tenant.