Screening Prospective Tenants

  • All landlords should have a printed Applicant Screening Policy for their rentals.  This policy should be applied to each applicant in the same way.  It should not violate fair housing laws. 

    Fair Housing Laws


    The federal Fair Housing Act, and many state and local laws prohibit a landlord from selecting tenants based on certain protected criteria.  A landlord may not refuse to rent to a tenant for the following reasons:


    • National origin
    • Religion
    • Disability or handicap, including physical and mental impairment
    • Sex, including sexual harassment
    • Familial status (includes protection for people with children under age 18 or pregnant women)

    A landlord must treat every tenant equally. Illegal discrimination occurs when the landlord:

    • Refuses to rent to members of a certain race
    • Denies the availability of an available rental dwelling or steers renters to a certain area based on race
    • Creates unreasonable restrictions on the number of people that may live in the rental unit
    • Includes preferences or limitations in a rental advertisement
    • Creates different terms or standards for certain tenants
    • Terminates a tenancy based on a discriminatory reason
    • Provides services or facilities only for certain tenants
    • Demands sexual favors or creates a sexually hostile environment
    • Refuses to make reasonable accommodations for a disabled tenant
    • Fails to stop another tenant from making discriminatory, harassing, or threatening comments to a person in a protected category

    The Fair Housing Acts apply to any person that deals with tenants and prospective tenants, including real estate agents, property owners, landlords, and managers. Even if the property owner did not personally discriminate against tenants or prospective tenants, the landlord may still be liable for the civil rights violations of employees.

    A landlord must base the selection of tenants on pre-established and objective criteria. A landlord may reject prospective tenants based on a fair screening process that requires all tenants to undergo the same application process. A landlord may consider the following when screening a tenant:

    • Credit history
    • Income
    • History of nonpayment of rent
    • Prior bankruptcies
    • References
    • Some types of criminal convictions
    • Pets



    State Court Records (CCAP)

    The state provides on-line access to certain public records of the circuit courts of Wisconsin.

    The information displayed is an exact copy of the case information entered into the Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP) case management system by court staff in the counties where the case files are located. The court record summaries are all public records under Wisconsin open records law.

    To view these records follow this link:


    Enter "Wisconsin CCAP" in your search engine.


    Race or color