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Tip #42: They’re Taking Names!

2010 is a U.S. Census year. Every household is required to answer a census questionnaire.

That includes your renters, so landlords and property managers need to know the rules.

Questionnaires will be mailed out to individual households in March, and responses are due back April 1.

If a tenant does not respond to the government questionnaire, they may get a visit from a census worker. That probably won’t happen until late spring or summer.

Landlords and property managers in multi-family buildings have to allow access for census workers to buzz or knock on front doors of specific tenants who have not responded to the census mailing. The census worker may have to return a number of times to catch the person at home. They must be allowed repeated visits, but their requests for access have to be reasonable.

If the census worker is unable to contact the tenant after repeated attempts, the landlord or property manager may be asked to provide demographic information about that unit.

The 2010 Census has several parts, or surveys, going on at once. Only the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey are mandatory. You do not have to allow access for others.

Obviously, this census process will bring out identity thieves and other criminals who will pretend to be census workers to gain access to your tenants.

Here are some tips to help you confirm that a census worker is legit:

Before you allow entry, you have the right to ask for ID. Workers are issued a government badge. Cross-check the badge with personal photo ID.

You can call the National Processing Center to verify the person’s employment. Try 1-800-923-8282 – you may be transferred to a different office. There will be a number of, but be careful if you get the verification phone number from the person you are trying to verify.

Ask them to tell you the specific name of the survey – cons don’t always do their homework.

Ask for proof that they are carrying a confidentiality statement with them – they are required to read it to each person they interview.

Make sure they have something with them to record data. This year, most census workers will be using hand-help computers.

You may see a bag, probably black, with “U.S. Census Bureau” printed on it.

Census workers will not request to come inside the unit.

Census workers will not request personal financial info or SSN’s — they may ask for general income data.

Be suspicious for those who ask to “canvas” – knock on random doors, or need to meet with quite a few renters.

Watch for someone who demands immediate access without time to call to verify or otherwise throws their weight around – threatens to have you arrested, for instance.

And don’t forget to fill out your own questionnaire — or you’ll have a census worker at your door.

See last weeks Landlord Quick Tip.

Do you have a quick tip to share with other landlords? Please email our editor at [email protected]

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