May 4th, 2020 at 11:50 am

Question: I am working on a new lease listing. I know that the new C.A.R. Notice Regarding Background Investigation Reports (BIRN) is a required disclosure on BHHS’s Lease Listing Transaction Checklist. What do we insert in the blank lines for CRA and contact information? Also, why is there only one signature line for “Landlord or Manager or Agent” to sign, but no signature line for the tenant? Should I as the listing agent sign on the landlord’s behalf? 

Answer: C.A.R.’s Notice Regarding Background Investigation Reports (BIRN) is a confusing form because it serves a different purpose as compared to the other lease disclosure forms. As background, C.A.R. released the BIRN in December 2019 to address a 2002 law concerning in-depth reports from an investigative consumer reporting agency (ICRA). The 2002 law requires a landlord who rejects a tenant based on an “investigative consumer report” to provide the ICRA’s contact information to the tenant, so the tenant can get a free copy of that report. An “investigative consumer report” is not a credit report. An “investigative consumer report” is a comprehensive report concerning the tenant’s criminal records, evictions, work history, references, and other information. Residential landlords rarely order investigative consumer reports.

• Giving BIRN to Landlord: As the lease listing agent, give the BIRN to the landlord to document that you’ve informed the landlord that he or she can order an investigative consumer report if desired. You can give the BIRN to the landlord upfront, at the time you take the listing, along with the BHHS Landlord Advisory informing the landlord to ascertain the qualifications of tenants independent of BHHS. Do not fill in any blank spaces. You can have the landlord sign the BIRN in the signature line just to acknowledge receipt of the document.

• Giving BIRN to Tenant: A landlord only gives the BIRN to a tenant in the rare instance that the landlord orders an investigative consumer report and rejects the tenant based on that report. In that situation, the landlord would fill in the blank spaces on the BIRN with the ICRA’s name and contact information. Let the landlord sign the form. You should not, as the lease listing agent, be signing the form on the landlord’s behalf. Give the completed BIRN to the tenant. Go ahead and get the tenant’s acknowledgement of receipt, even though there’s currently no signature line for the tenant. The lack of a signature line for the tenant to acknowledge receipt appears to be an oversight. Hopefully, C.A.R. will revise the BIRN soon to make it more user-friendly.

-Thank you to Jennifer Stockert (Pasadena Agent Services Representative) for suggesting this week’s legal tip.

Copyright© 2020 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (BHHSCP). All rights reserved. Any unauthorized reproduction or use of this material is strictly prohibited. This information is believed to be accurate as of May 4, 2020. It is not intended as a substitute for legal advice in individual situations, and is not intended to nor does it create a standard of care for real estate professionals.

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