June 01, 2022

Tenant-screening service allegedly discriminated against voucher holders

A tenant-screening service is being accused of violating fair housing laws by discriminating against low-income tenants of color.

The National Consumer Law Center filed a lawsuit in federal court last week against Texas-based SafeRent Solutions, Law360 reported. The center alleged SafeRent violated the Fair Housing Act and state laws by giving poor risk-profile scores to Black and Hispanic rental applicants with housing vouchers, the suit claimed.

The risk scores resulted in some of those carrying vouchers to be denied housing, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claimed SafeRent Scores accounts for credit history and non-tenancy debts but not the benefits provided by housing vouchers. According to the suit, this disproportionately hurts Black and Hispanic applicants, who typically had lower credit scores than white ones.

“Credit scores and conventional credit history are not accurate predictors of a successful tenancy,” Christine Webber, co-chair of the Civil Rights and Employment practice at law firm Cohen Milstein, stated in a release. Greater Boston Legal Services and Cohen Milstein are also representing the plaintiffs.

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This is not the first time Cohen Milstein and SafeRent have found themselves on the opposite sides of litigation. In 2018, the law firm filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the screening service related to artificial intelligence. That case is still being litigated.

Click through to read The Real Deal’s “SafeRent Accused of Unfairly Labeling Black, Hispanic Applicants High-Risk.