The norm for the housing industry, for many years now, has been to provide background checks on residents for prior arrests, prison time and even credit history. Senior living operators are seriously lagging behind the curve in conducting background checks on their residents.
American Seniors Housing Association published a Special Issue on ensuring compliance with criminal background checks for employees, there is little being done to screen residents.
Residents with criminal history can represent serious consequences for other residents and senior living operators alike. Allowing an unsafe environment endangers fellow residents, loss of monthly rent payments, damage to the value of the community and property and ultimately, lawsuits.
Earlier this summer, the California League - Fresno Village signed with a resident on supervised release for selling methamphetamine. He was later arrested at Fresno Village for allegedly operating a small-scale meth lab in his apartment.
"It is an unfortunate thing that we just don't screen in this business," said Doug Fullaway, VP of senior living business development at RealPage, Inc. "You can spend less than $25 to screen a prospect and it may save you thousands of dollars."
Texas is the only state that requires senior living operators to conduct residential screenings, specifically, for sexual predators.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a final rule on screening and eviction for drug abuse and other criminal activity, which applied to a segment of the senior housing industry: the Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program. HUD's Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act provided better authority for screening and denial of federally assisted housing to those with specific types of criminal activities in their history. Most federally assisted housing units could utilize HUD's guidance, but the vast majority of senior housing operators have yet to implement background checks to ensure the safety of their residents and their business.