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Legal Background Checks and Truthful Housing

Window to the Legislation: Legal Background Checks and Truthful Housing – Transcript

Welcome to Window to the Legislation! I’m Maame Nyamekye, Workers Legal professional on the Nationwide Affiliation of REALTORS®. On this episode, I’ll focus on why you will need to give your felony background screening practices a re-evaluation as a way to keep away from a good housing violation. 

Actually, not too long ago a number of housing suppliers have discovered themselves confronted with lawsuits alleging the misuse of felony historical past in violation of truthful housing legal guidelines. In New York, a housing supplier not too long ago settled a case for over $1 million the place the plaintiff alleged the that housing supplier maintained an excessively broad ban on renting to folks with felony information.  In Florida, as many as 48 Florida housing suppliers have been additionally sued for the alleged improper felony background screening of potential tenants.

Using felony histories to make housing choices has lengthy been on truthful housing advocates radars.  In 2016, HUD issued steering urging housing suppliers to train warning when implementing felony historical past insurance policies and practices to make housing choices.  In that steering, HUD reported that African People and Hispanics are arrested, convicted, and incarcerated at disproportionate charges in comparison with the overall inhabitants, leading to felony history-based limitations to housing and making a disproportionate impression on minorities. 

Whereas individuals with felony information will not be a protected class beneath the Truthful Housing Act, race, coloration and nationwide origin are and the improper use of felony historical past to make housing choices might have a disparate impression on these protected lessons. 

Beneath a disparate impression evaluation, a housing supplier could also be held responsible for discriminating in opposition to a protected class absent any proof of intent or motivation to discriminate.  That means, legal responsibility might come up when a facially impartial coverage or follow has, or predictably would, lead to a disproportionate damaging impression on a protected class beneath the Truthful Housing Act.

Some states and localities, reminiscent of Illinois, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia, have even enacted legal guidelines limiting a housing supplier’s use of felony information. 

Think about these greatest practices when utilizing felony historical past to make housing choices:

  • Have a written felony historical past coverage.
  • Apply felony document insurance policies constantly.
  • Don’t ask or take into account arrests with out convictions.
  • Keep away from blanket bans on candidates with a felony conviction.
  • Remember to exclude solely these with convictions that current a demonstrable danger to resident security or property.
  • Doc housing choices.
  • Be acquainted with native and state legal guidelines that apply to a housing supplier’s use of felony histories.

For extra info on use of felony historical past in housing, take a look at NAR’s article on truthful housing and criminal-based historical past practices and insurance policies.

Thanks for watching this episode of Window to the Legislation. 

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