CommonWealth Magazine recently reported on developments in the Louis vs. SafeRent Solutions case. An excerpt of the article is below. The plaintiffs in this case are represented by attorneys from Greater Boston Legal Services; the Washington, DC-based firm Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll; and the Boston-based National Consumer Law Center.
Two Black women from Massachusetts are at the center of what could become a landmark federal case about whether software that screens potential tenants is illegally biased against Black and Hispanic applicants.
Rachael Rollins, the US attorney for Massachusetts, weighed in on the case, Louis vs. SafeRent Solutions, in a court brief this week, arguing that the technology used by tenant screening companies must comply with anti-discrimination rules. “Algorithms are written by people. As such, they are susceptible to all of the biases, implicit or explicit, of the people that create them,” Rollins said in a statement. Rollins said her filing “recognizes that our 20th century civil rights laws apply to 21st century innovations.”
SafeRent Solutions is a company used by landlords to screen potential tenants. SafeRent gives rental applicants a risk score based on their credit history, other credit-related information including non-tenancy debts, and eviction history.