Being a landlord, I discovered years ago that there are a lot of marketers trying to sell lead lists posing as someone who is relocating. The problem is this, my rentals are in a tiny town that no-one, I mean no-one would likely relocate to unless they are from the area originally. This makes any so-called lead-list pure junk. As well, people entrap landlords into a lawsuits using online advertising. My experience that these forms of drive-bys are also under the guise of a person relocating.
Another issue is that there is a state penitentiary in a neighboring state and the local town is rife with crime as a result. This is because relatives of the inmate want to move closer to the prison. Not being familiar with the area, we often get people trying to move into the area even though the prison is 30-40 miles away. Where people have moved to this area to be near the prison, it has been a disaster resulting in thousands of dollars lost during eviction, damages, and loss in reputation. It is easy to get caught in this trap and I personally lost $8000 last year as a result. Background checks rarely help with this unfortunately.
I only rent to people I can meet, evaluate personally, and can see and approve the rental in person. So far, it has always worked out and I have not had this as a problem until recently when I began advertising on-line. Today I got a on-line lead with no phone number and a throw-away e-mail address that appears to belong to a person in North Carolina doing a search for the e-mail address. There is no other information. For what it is worth, online rental ads are where the marketers and drive-bys get their contacts from. Otherwise, this would not be a problem.
Is my policy legal? As well, it is legal to include in the on-line ad local residents and principles only?
[Edit] @phoog brings up a great point. Perhaps the policy could be principles only and all inquiries require in-person interviews and approval of the rental. The policy wording may need to be massaged a bit. Thank You @phoog!