Can Landlords Ask for Proof of Immigration Status?

The federal government has almost exclusive authority to address immigration, including undocumented immigration. Currently, there is no federal law that prevents or penalizes landlords from renting to undocumented people. In addition, there is no current Pennsylvania or Delaware municipal law or ordinance prohibiting such rentals, although at least one municipality has tried. The Third Circuit overturned these provisions and held that federal laws, such as the Immigration and Nationality Act, prevailed over such restrictions by a municipality.

Inquiring about a tenant's immigration status could create an uncomfortable or hostile environment and might discourage certain tenants from applying to rent the property. As a landlord, it's natural to want to know as much as possible about your potential tenants before renting your property. However, it is not legal to ask about a tenant's immigration status. The best way for landlords to address this issue is to be consistent in their rental application process.

It's important for landlords to remember that their ultimate goal is to find reliable, responsible tenants who pay rent on time and take good care of the property. Focusing on a tenant's ability to meet these criteria, rather than their immigration status, is the key to finding good tenants and avoiding legal and ethical problems. By applying the same requirements to each applicant, the landlord can avoid renting to anyone (not just undocumented people), which could pose a risky bet as a tenant and, at the same time, establish a non-discriminatory rental system. As a landlord, you can't refuse to rent to someone based solely on their immigration status or make any decisions that may be influenced by their national origin. Many landlords prefer to do a credit check, a criminal background check, and review eviction history reports before deciding to rent to someone.

In addition, landlords can request proof of income to ensure that the prospective tenant can pay rent on time. In conclusion, it is important for landlords to understand the legal implications of asking for proof of immigration status when renting out their property. While it may be tempting for landlords to inquire about a tenant's immigration status, it is not legal to do so. The best way for landlords to protect themselves is by being consistent in their rental application process and focusing on a tenant's ability to meet criteria such as paying rent on time and taking good care of the property.

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