Property Management > Latest News > Are Landlords Now Immigration Agents?

Are Landlords Now Immigration Agents?


ShareThis


True or False?  A landlord cannot rent to illegal aliens.
More and more, that answer depends on where your property sits.
sheriffAs frustration over federal immigration policy heats up, cities and states are taking matters into their own hands.
Just ask William Hadden, from Lexington, Kentucky.  The 69-year-old landlord was arrested and charged with dozens of crimes, including harboring fugitives and conspiracy — because his property manager rented to illegals.  Although acquitted by a jury, he could have spent the rest of his life in  prison, and been forced to forfeit the 60 or so units he owned jointly with his son to the State of Kentucky.
Conversely, a property management firm in California faced the polar opposite problem: they were threatened with a lawsuit for demanding an applicant’s social security number in order to run a credit check.  That violated the state’s new prohibition on inquiring about immigration status in rental housing.
Where local governments find they can’t regulate illegals themselves, they instead target landlords, hoping that by closing off the housing market illegals will be driven from their community.
Hazelton, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed an ordinance requiring that landlords verify an applicant’s immigration status before renting, or face a fine.  Legislators are confident they are well within their rights to regulate local business activity.  The Farmers Branch, Texas legislature has passed a series of three such bills, including the most recent mandate that landlords ante up the money to evict tenants who are found to be in violation of immigration policies – even if they are paying the rent.  All three of the Texas laws have been overturned.
Now, Arizona has ignited a sweltering controversy by passing a sweeping immigration policy.  While the earlier versions of this bill contained language prohibiting landlords from renting to illegals, and impliedly to verify immigration status, the current state law does not go that far.  However, it does define immigration crimes differently than federal law. For instance, some immigrants will need to carry their documentation on their person.  Will failure to do so be grounds for eviction?
Legal scholars are betting that the Arizona law will soon be overturned on any number of constitutional grounds: the Supremacy clause, the vagueness of “reasonable suspicion” or its facially discriminatory nature.  But, the lawyers who helped draft the legislation stand behind their language.  In fact, they have been retained by four other state governments who want to follow the Arizona example.  Which four?  The attorneys won’t tell – “attorney client privilege.”
How does a landlord reconcile these recent immigration measures with Fair Housing rules.  We’ve been drilled for years to see past race and treat all applicants the same.
Do we need to change our application requirements?
Should our lease now include the right to evict in the event a tenant’s immigration status falls into question?
What proof do you ask for?
Can you tell whether these documents are valid or forged?
It’s not just immigration law that landlords are asked to enforce.  A county in Maryland wants landlords to police a new noise ordinance or face revocation of their rental license, while Boulder, Colorado is proposing to fine landlords when a tenant’s carbon footprint is too large.
Where does it stop?  From patrolling pot smokers to outing white collar criminals – how much law enforcement are you ready to take on?
American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your commercial housing investment, including real estate forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

To subscribe to our blog, click here.


ShareThis
  • brassservices@yahoo.com

    It is the civic duty of all Americans to resist illegal laws. Just because a legislative body says something like “minorities must sit in the back of a bus” or “Jews must be rounded up and killed” not does make the law right, valid or proper. DO NOT put yourself in a position of liability as if you have a duty to report things that are outside of your knowledge, credentials, or scope to assess, and might assess wrong. Until they give you a federal badge and the pay scale to go with it, there is no justification for the extra cost in labor time that you will not be compensated for or the extra liability you bring to yourself and the property owner.

  • rpa

    I do not see myself as an immigration agent. But I already check for these things. I.E. Credit report, SS#, DL# & etc. In my experience, people who have something to lose make the best tenants. I am not just talking about security deposits, but credit ratings and rental histories as well. It is dificult enough to have a legal resident served. It is near impossible to find someone that doesn’t want to be found and a judgement against someone with bad credit is next to worthless. Further, I find it despicable for a Landlord to rent substandard housing for excessive amounts of cash and inflated security deposits to a people simply because he/she knows that the tenants will not contest anything or that they will never take the landlord to court. I believe this is the real reason landlords want to act like its not their business whether a tenant is legal or not. For me, the compensation (or payoff) is a better qualified tenant and recourse, not enforcing immigration status. But because illegals do not have these things, they do not apply for residency.

  • Gene

    Let’s keep it simple. If you are smart you will run a credit check on all potential tenants. With that said, if you are a citizen of these United States, you have a moral obligation not to assist people in breaking the law. If you choose to rent to an illegal (lets use some common sense) you are in fact a part of the problem. If you as an American witnessed someone robbing a bank would you give a description to the police? Bottom line – If you love your country why would you be associated with a person who is breaking the law.

  • Jamison

    Gene where does that moral obligation come from? I believe I should be able to rent to whoever I want on MY property. The law is stupid and stupid laws should not be obeyed. These law are getting more and more out of hand. If you love your country you will resist bad laws.

  • gene

    Hey Jamison, laws are socially acceptable behavior. And if you don’t like this country and its laws why don’t you pack up and find some other country to live in. Do some research and see what other countries around the globe do to protect their borders. Why don’t you educate yourself and find out how Mexico protects its Southern border. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on what kind of financial burden illegals put on the tax payers!

  • Jamison

    So because other countries are a bunch of thugs the United States should be one? I thought we were the leaders of the free world. If your problem is with the welfare state than fine I do not like it either, but do not take it out on immigrants that come here for a better life for themselves and their families. Also, where do you think they are going to get the money to pay for the enforcement of these laws? If you think we pay to many taxes now…

  • Jeff

    Jamison- I’m with Gene on this one. Most people want a better life- that’s natural. But the USA can NOT afford to offer a better life to everyone who so desires. Also, there are others who are much more impoverished than the residents of Mexico & Central/South America. How many people from Africa, China or India live on $.40 a day or less? Don’t they deserve a better life more than those from Mexico?

    How ’bout we seal off our border & control who we let into our country? It might be a good idea to educate yourself on the immigration laws of some other nations. Mexico? Australia? Iraq or Iran? Don’t we have 3 tourists held captive in Iran for crossing an unmarked border?

    We are facing a HUGE deficit at the moment- are we not? The 20+ million or so Illegal Aliens are costing us a TON of money in infrastructure alone. Think of how many schools, roads, prisions, hospitals etc we wouldn’t have to build. Free breakfast, lunch & snack for the illegals in school. Don’t forget the food stamps, section 8 housing & Medi-Cal here in CA. The list goes on & on.

  • Jamison

    Jeff I never said we should be forced to pay for immigrants. I do not like welfare either the difference is I see no distinction between citizen and immigrant. Welfare is welfare. It is wrong to steal from people and give to others. My point is that people that want to work hard and make a living should be able to enter the country without arbitrary laws preventing them. So to answer your question if people from Africa, China, and India want to come to this country and make a better living for themselves I will welcome them. Do not fool yourself they already are anyways.

    I am well educated on how other governments do it. So what? I do not care how the other thugs in other countries do it. We are not those countries. If you want to make the United States like Iran than fine, but at that I point I am not even sure I will want to live here. Will you?

    When it comes down to the practical application of keeping immigrants out, how do you hope to accomplish this? I can see no way of doing this without spending lots of money. You talk a lot about deficits and how much welfare we spend on other people, but your solution is not helping California in any way. Your solution to the problem is spending more money kicking people out. So you want to trade a big bureaucracy for another big bureaucracy? If you want to get rid of the problem then get rid of the welfare system. That seems to be your big issue with immigration. Stop picking on the people trying to make a better life for themselves and their family.

  • gnarlyer

    I am in the middle of ending a rather nice tenancy with a young family. The husband is in Federal jail for a weapons violation. He has been there for 1 month. The wife continues to pay the rent HOWEVER, I work for the Feds and as part of my employment, security checks are done on a regular basis. My initial read into this wa s that as long as the issue was theirs only, I would not change anything. This all changed a week later when I was called by the Feds to inquire about my tenant. The tenant was served a 30 day notice to move last week. Anyone have a similar experience?

  • Pingback: Landlord Help | American Apartment Owners Association