The federal government has the exclusive authority to address immigration, including undocumented immigration. Currently, there is no federal law that prevents or penalizes landlords for renting to undocumented people. In addition, there is no current law or municipal ordinance in force in Pennsylvania or Delaware that prohibits such rentals, although at least one municipality has tried. The Third Circuit overturned these provisions and held that federal laws, such as the Immigration and Nationality Act, opposed such restrictions by a municipality.
As a landlord, it is illegal to refuse to rent someone solely because of their immigration status or make any decisions that might be influenced by their national origin. Asking about a tenant's immigration status can create an uncomfortable or hostile environment and may discourage some tenants from applying to rent the property. It is natural for landlords to want to know as much as possible about their potential tenants before renting out their property. The best way for landlords to address this issue is to focus on a tenant's ability to meet certain criteria, rather than on their immigration status. Many landlords prefer to perform a credit check, a criminal background check, and review eviction history reports before deciding to rent someone.
It is important for landlords to remember that their ultimate goal is to find reliable and responsible tenants who pay rent on time and take good care of the property. By applying the same requirements to each applicant, the landlord can avoid renting to anyone, not just undocumented people, which could be a risky bet as a tenant and, at the same time, establish a non-discriminatory rental system.