ATCP 134 contains specific rules regarding when and how a landlord can charge a rental applicant for the cost of their credit report. As background, ATCP 134 is the chapter of the Administrative Code of Wisconsin that sets forth 21 requirements that Landlords must follow or else risk getting sued for double damages and attorney’s fees by the applicant or tenant.
The applicable portion of the rules regarding credit checks is located at ATCP 134.05(4). This section says that:
1. A landlord may charge a rental applicant the actual cost of their credit check up to $20.
- So if the actual cost to the landlord to order the report is only $10 then the landlord can only require the applicant to pay $10.
2. In order to charge the applicant the credit report fee the landlord must obtain the report from a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files ona nationwide basis.
- So a landlord can only charge the applicant the fee if s/he is obtaining the credit report from one of the “Big 3″ (Experion, Equifax, or Trans Union)
- Thus a landlord cannot charge the tenant for the cost of the report if they are obtained from a local or regional consumer information dateabase, credit brokers, credit resellers etc.
3. The Landlord must notify the applicant of the cost before ordering the report.
4. The landlord must provide a copy of the credit report to the applicant if the applicant is paying for the report.
5. The landlord cannot charge the applicant for the cost of the credit report if the applicant provides the landlord with a copy of his/her credit report (obtained from one of the “Big 3″) that is less than 30 days old.
- If you are faced with this situation, I would strongly advise the landlord to still order a nmore recent report at their own expense to insure that the report provided by the tenant has not been modified.