Before your condo or HOA board decides to screen owners or tenants, understand at the outset that, despite the prevalence of the procedure around the country, it’s not universally legal. First, you have to check with your state law to see if screenings are even permitted by condos or HOAs. But even further, you have to check your own documents. Condos and HOAs only have those powers that are granted to them in their documents. If the documents never mention screening, or even the ability to restrict rentals or ownership in some way, it’s really doubtful if screening is authorized. And even if it is authorized, what are you going to do with the screening information? If your association has no power to bar tenants or owners, what is the point of doing a background check? Are you planning to put up a flier in the mailroom identifying an owner as a former criminal, or perhaps someone who was previously evicted from a home? Since screening information is almost universally confidential, that wouldn’t be a prudent decision.
However, many condos and HOAs do have specific provisions in their documents that allow very detailed screening of rental or sale applicants, and some even allow the association to restrict rentals for almost no reason. But if your documents give your association the power to screen, are you sure it’s a good idea to do so?