A Colorado law from last year, HB23-1099, aimed to make apartment hunting cheaper. It addressed the costs of paying for multiple background checks when tenants applied to different apartments. According to legislatures, it intended to save tenants money by allowing potential renters to buy “portable background checks.”

Renters would purchase the portable background check once. Once they have it, they can present it to multiple landlords during the application process. Typically, potential tenants must pay for individual background checks when applying to different landlords. HB23-1099 allows tenants to pay once for multiple apartments without incurring extra costs.

Despite HB23-1099 legalizing one background check for multiple applications, potential tenants may still encounter challenges. For example, the law relies on screening agencies to provide a service that meets renters’ and landlords’ needs. Per the relatively recent law, landlords do not need to accept any or all background checks a renter may supply. The screening must include:

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Verification of employment and income
  • Last-known address
  • Rental and credit history in jurisdictions they’ve lived
  • A criminal history record check for all federal, state, and local convictions

Furthermore, HB23-1099 requires a background check run by a third party within 30 days of the application. Once completed, the potential tenant must provide a copy directly to the landlord upon request. Though simple on paper, many screenings do not include all of the same requests.

Many screening providers only provide reports intended for landlords. In many cases, they also do not clarify whether renters can purchase their products. Another issue is whether the screening meets the minimum requirements to act as a portable background check. 

Unfortunately, no screening provider has built a report that works specifically with this law. Applicants may also find portable background checks are still expensive after adding necessary checks to meet the landlord’s and HB23-1099’s requirements. One requirement includes checking criminal records for local convictions, which could consist of numerous county records.

Unfortunately, many renters have voiced concerns about HB23-1099. Many reported struggling to get a portable background check, saying, “[They] found several tenant screening services, but most seem to be marketed toward landlords, rather than tenants.” This struggle has left many questioning whether the services from these companies would meet the requirements. On the other side, landlords have noticed the struggles. Some have commented that few renters have provided portable background checks despite HB23-1099 taking effect in 2023.

Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.