Yesterday, we filed a complaint with the California Attorney General regarding the practices of a new tenant blacklisting website, DoNotRentTo.com and its owner, Bluechip Group LLC.
DoNotRentTo.com refers to itself as "the National Tenant Reporting Company." The site offers its "members" (anyone who pays the annual fee of $29.99) access to what it calls its "bad tenant database". The site allows any website visitor, whether a "member" or not, to make "free unlimited bad tenant postings without login."
This rogue website is operating as a consumer reporting service without complying with applicable state and federal laws that protect tenants from unfair blacklisting. The result is an unchecked service that encourages landlords to trash tenants, and then allows landlords (or anyone) to access reports on tenants listed in the "bad tenant database."
Bad credit reports have a devastating impact on tenants who are trying to obtain housing. State and federal law regulates services that compile and disseminate reports on tenants. Among other requirements, these companies must provide tenants access to any reports about them, as well as an opportunity to challenge inaccuracies in those reports. The purpose is to make sure that tenants are protected from unfair blacklisting that would prevent them from obtaining housing or otherwise damage their credit.
DoNotRentTo.com is not complying with these rules. The site has countless problems, including the following:
- The website allows anyone to enter anything about any tenant, with no screening to make sure that information posted about a tenant is accurate.
- The website allows any person who pays the annual $29.99 fee to access personal information about tenants, without any effort to confirm that the person seeking the information is even a landlord, or intends to use the information for a legitimate purpose.
- The website does not provide any way for tenants to request a copy of information provided about them, or to contest the accuracy of information in the reports.
- The website provides access to partial social security numbers, partial driver's license numbers and other personal information that invades privacy and could facilitate identity theft.
At first, when we tried DoNotRentTo.com, we were pleased that the site appeared to have no tenants in its database. But that appears to have been a technical glitch in the database. When we tried again this week, we found numerous entries, with landlords trashing their tenants for all to see, and including personal identifying information about the tenants that could easily get into the wrong hands. DoNotRentTo.com needs to be shut down immediately, or, at minimum, its practices need to be radically changed.