Immigration is a hot topic and will continue to be one of great debate in this nation. Illegal immigrants are everywhere, and I’m often asked if all of my tenants have proper documentation. Can an undocumented individual legally rent property here? Can I get in trouble if I rent to someone who doesn’t have proper documentation? I would’ve answered “No” and “Yes” to the above questions and would’ve been wrong.
There’s nothing in our housing laws that makes it illegal to rent to someone who is here illegally! Some jurisdictions have tried to make it a crime but have failed thus far. Anyone who is here — legal or not — has basic rights. And if you deny tenancy because of national origin, it is YOU who are breaking the law, regardless of whether that person is here legally.
I always screen my applicants and have them provide a recent paycheck stub, driver’s license, social security card or other valid ID. In the case of immigrants, this is often a work visa or Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN). For other suggestions on verifying identity/background, go to the site below. It’s from the Fair Housing Council in Oregon and it’s quite good:
And of course, if anyone falsifies ANYTHING on an application, you have the right to deny them tenancy on those grounds.
Renting to illegal immigrants is not against the law, and refusing to rent to them because they’re here illegally puts you, as a landlord, at risk. They are to be treated no differently than people from Asia, Pakistan, Ireland or Australia. Fair housing laws demand that we not discriminate against applicants because of their national origin. Period.
So regardless of your personal opinion, be aware of the law and make sure you don’t discriminate. You could end up in jail instead of the illegal immigrant! Hmmm . . .