Faulty automated background checks freeze out renters

Occurred: May 2020-

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People looking to rent housing across the US are being frozen out by faulty algorithmic background checks by largely unregulated tenant screening companies.

Tenants have found themselves unable to rent houses and apartments due to RealPage, CoreLogic, TransUnion, RentGrow and other companies producing automated reports that are usually not checked by humans and which can wrongly label people deadbeats, criminals or sex offenders, according to court records and interviews conducted by The Markup and New York Times

The reports singled out false name matches, the use of abbreviated criminal records, and other issues as causing problems, with landlords receiving assessments 'without a human ever glancing at the results to see if they contain obvious mistakes' and renters unaware why they are being turned down and how they can contest them. The results include existing tenants unfairly evicted, prospective tenants denied housing, and homelessness.

The findings raised concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the systems involved, the lack of human oversight, and inadequate transparency and accountability.


Operator: RealPage; CoreLogic; TransUnion; RentGrow
Developer: RealPage; CoreLogic; TransUnion; RentGrow
Country: USA
Sector: Business/professional services
Purpose: Predict tenant risk
Technology: Pricing algorithm
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race
Transparency: Governance; Black box