Since the beginning of this month, the city of Dubuque, Iowa, has required landlords to conduct a tenant background screening on all people who fill out a rental application, Radio Iowa reports.
According to the city police department's crime prevention officer Scott Baxter, the law requires background checks that look for any felony and misdemeanor charges and convictions, but does not specify how landlords should use the information once they have it. Landlords may choose to accept an application in spite of negative indicators, but could be held partially responsible if a tenant goes on to cause repeated problems involving the police. In the worst cases, landlords could be forced to pay a fine or even face losing their rental licenses. "The main point is that they know going into it when they rent to somebody what the background is," Baxter explained to the news source. "It's part of an ongoing effort to basically lower our crime (and) ensure that landlords and property managers are getting quality tenants." According to the city's website, rental property owners and managers must also attend mandatory training programs on crime-free housing.