Blanket Bans on Renting to Criminals May Violate Fair Housing Act

Blanket Bans on Renting to Criminals May Violate Fair Housing Act


Landlords beware: there’s a new housing sheriff in town and he wants you to rent your property to tenants who are murderers, rapists, thieves — and other criminals.

“The fact that you were arrested shouldn’t keep you from getting a job, and it shouldn’t keep you from renting a home,” Julian Castro, Housing and Urban Development Secretary, told the meeting of the National Low Income Housing Coalition on April 4. “Today, I am proud to announce new guidance that makes it clear HUD will use the full force of the law to protect the fair housing rights of folks who’ve been arrested or who are returning to their communities after serving time in jail or prison.”

Castro issued new guidelines, warning landlords that: “While having a criminal record is not a protected characteristic under the Fair Housing Act, criminal history-based restrictions on housing opportunities violate the Act if, without justification, their burden falls more often on renters or other housing market participants of one race or national origin over another (i.e., discriminatory effects liability).”

So private landlords who have blanket bans on renting to criminals may now be in violation of the Fair Housing Act and could be sued and face penalties for discrimination.

(Reprinted from RealtyTrac’s April 2016 HousingNewsReport)