Culture

Naborly app is encouraging landlords to report tenants who missed April rent

Millions of Americans are out of work. Naborly wants to capitalize on that. It could have far-reaching consequences for tenants.

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Naborly, a self-titled “landlords’ credit bureau,” is encouraging landlords to report delinquent payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a newsletter sent to users and obtained by Reclaim The Net. The email states that this reporting will help Naborly “continue to deliver the most accurate and up-to-date tenant screening service in the market.”

Naborly partners with landlords and building management companies to screen potential tenants.

The coronavirus pandemic is bringing unheard-of levels of unemployment to the United States — the past two weeks alone have seen nearly 10 million applications from people who have lost their jobs. That trend is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Naborly is capitalizing upon this historic downturn, using it as a ruthless point of business. That could have devastating effects for renters’ futures. And they might not even be privy to it.

Landlord confidentiality is promised — Naborly’s email makes it clear that its paying customers — landlords — will be protected by confidentiality.

The email sent to customers reads: “Please note that we keep reporting fully confidential and DO NOT notify your tenant that you have reported to our system.” Don’t worry about feeling guilty for reporting your tenants, Naborly says, they’re never going to find out about this.

That confidentiality agreement does not extend to the tenant in any form. In order to protect landlords, Naborly is explicitly stating that it will keep tenants in the dark about this reporting. When, in a year or two, that tenant’s application to a new apartment is denied, they will have no idea why.

Hitting them while they’re down — Naborly’s strategy here is simple: prioritize its business at any cost. In this case, the cost could be a tenant’s ability to secure housing in the future.

Those who are unable to pay rent this month have likely lost their income because of the pandemic. They are struggling to feed themselves. They are worried about their ability to continue living without a paycheck. During this low point, Naborly wants landlords to mar tenants’ records.

Naborly sees the struggle of millions of Americans trying to stay afloat as a profit point. If landlords listen to Naborly’s advice, it could mean devastating consequences for tenants that will reach well beyond the reach of the pandemic.

Naborly did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.