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#183 RentPrep Court: Cutting Corners

RentPrep For Landlords

Release Date: 11/30/2017

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Resources mentioned in this episode:
https://www.rentprep.com/resources/
https://www.texasrealestate.com/for-texas-realtors/legal-faqs/category/landlord-tenant-issues
https://www.classaction.org/employment-background-checks



Narrator voice

This is the plaintiff Jim Jackson he’s a renter from Texas and he says the defendant denied him a rental because he has a large family. He’s suing for $1,000 in statutory damages related to his discrimination claim.

Narrator voice
This is the defendant Wilson Wharton who claims he found better renters and that Jim is just angry he was denied the rental.

Bailiff
Will all parties please raise their right hand

Narrator voice  - What you are about to hear is only real in your imagination. The judgements are fictitious but real life lessons are waiting to unfold. Welcome to RentPrep court.

 

Bailiff

All rise for the honorable Judge Rudy Fortune.


Judge Rudy Fortune
Jim Jackson you are suing Mr. Wilson Wharton for damages of $1,000 dollars because you believe you and your family were discriminated against. What kind of evidence do you have to substantiate your claims.

Renter Jim Jackson
Your honor. I have six kids and it’s been very difficult for my wife and I to find a place to live. We’ve been denied many rentals so far but with Mr. Wharton it was the only time we felt someone discriminated against us.

Judge Rudy

What makes you believe that you were discriminated against?

 

Renter Jim Jackson
When we looked at the rental he kept asking us prying questions about our family. He started off by making a comment about our mini-van and asked me how many kids we have. He made comments during the showing and said that the rental was ideal for couples and not great for families. But we’re desperate so we filled out an application and paid the $50 fee and we were never told if we were denied.

 

Judge Rudy
So how did you find out you were denied the rental?

 

Renter Jim Jackson
I called Mr. Wharton about a week later to ask about the rental and he said he went with another applicant.

Judge Rudy
Mr. Wharton… is this true?

Landlord Wilson Wharton
Not completely your honor. I never made any comments about their mini-van or that the rental is better suited for landlords. That simply did not happen. Jim’s right that I did rent out the space to someone else who is a better fit for the rental.

 

Judge Rudy
Mmm hmmmm… and how did you make that determination that the other applicant was a better fit for your rental?

 

Landlord Wilson Wharton
They had a much longer and more stable job history so I ran their background check and everything checked out fine.  

Judge Rudy
Mr. Wharton did you provide Mr. Jackson with your tenant-selection criteria when he filled out an application?

Landlord Wilson Wharton
Ahhhh… no your honor.

Judge Rudy (cue music)
Mmmm your situation reminds me of a friend of mine growing up. A bunch of us use to play baseball down by the quarry at the edge of town. We’d go to Mr. Jenkins grocery store and snag some of his spare cardboard boxes. We’d make some bases and drop em down on the field and have ourselves a day playing until suppa time. Our one friends we called Racing Rick because he’d run so fast round the bases his feet would never touch cardboard until he got to home plate. In school he was the same way. He was always cutting corners to get things done as quickly as possible. Mr. Wharton do you understand why I am bringing up Racing Rick today?

Landlord Wilson Wharton
Ahhh… I’m not sure I’m following your honor.

Judge Rudy
You mentioned you didn’t provide the applicant with your tenant-selection-criteria. In the state of Texas it is required to make printed notice of the landlord’s tenant-selection criteria available to the applicant. Are you aware of this law?

Landlord Wilson Wharton
No I wasn’t your honor.

Judge Rudy
Now, this tells me you’re a landlord who doesn’t touch the bases because you’re too busy thinking bout home plate. You’re racing just like Rick to get that rental filled as fast as possible. My suggestion is that you read up on your state and local municipalities law’s before you start screening tenants.

Landlord Wilson Wharton
I’m sorry your honor. I’ll do that ASAP.

Renter Jim Jackson
I bet he didn’t read up on the Fair Housing laws neither!!! I want my money for being discriminated against!

 

[Gavel noise + crowd murmur]

 

Judge Rudy
Mr. Jackson. My courtroom is not a place for accusations... but finding the truth of the matter. Do you have any other evidence to present that would suggest you were discriminated against?

Renter Jim Jackson
No your honor but it’s obvious he doesn’t follow the law!

Judge Rudy
Mr. Jackson as far as your case of discrimination against Mr. Wharton... please tell your wife I said sorry Mrs. Jackson... and I am for real... and I never meant to make your daughter cry... and that I apologize a trillion times. You see a courtroom isn’t a place for anecdotal evidence. I need evidence and not your version of the truth.

Landlord Wilson Wharton
Thank you your honor!

[gavel noises]


Judge Rudy
I’m not finished Mr. Wharton. Now yes, I am going to dismiss the charges of $1,000 in this claim of discrimination. However, in the state of Texas if you charge a tenant an application fee to run a background check you must present them with a written notice of your tenant-selection-criteria. Since you rejected the applicant and failed to make your criteria known you must refund the application fee to Mr. Jackson. You got off lucky today but my suggestion is that you stop cutting corners and read up on the laws. My verdict is a payment of $50 to the plaintiff.
[gavel sound]

Narrator:
Well.. the honorable judge threw out the discrimination claim in a case of cutting corners but the plaintiff was still awarded $50. We’re going to toss this over to Steve and Eric to see what the guys in the RentPrep office think about this.