WASHINGTON – April 26, 2016 – Each year 650,000 Americans are released from prison, according to federal data. By some estimates, almost a third of Americans have a criminal record, including the many people who have a record for a minor infraction, or an infraction that occurred a long time ago.
This statistic now impacts property managers because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently suggested that a complete ban on ex-criminals could be a form of discrimination that violates the Fair Housing Act. While people with a criminal record are not a protected class under the Act, minorities are, and minorities are disproportionately represented among those with a criminal record, according to HUD.
Under the government's guidance, the goal is to take a nuanced view when creating a housing policy. As a result, HUD believes that a property manager's policy that rejects anyone with a criminal record is likely to have a disparate impact on minorities.
To help public agencies create appropriate guidelines related to arrest records, HUD created a list of FAQs about arrest records and an overview of the new guidelines on criminal convictions. While not all information is specific to private property managers, the answers provide some insight into HUD's position on the issue. They generally suggest considerations beyond any no-convict rental policy, such as the time that has passed since an infraction or the seriousness of a crime.
The complete arrest FAQ list from HUD is posted online.
In addition, HUD has posted criminal record guidance online, which states that a criminal record should have a "substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest" when considering a tenant.
© 2016 Florida Realtors®
Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.