The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) came out with new guidelines in April concerning the use of criminal background and criminal history when you’re screening applicants. This is a change to the way we had been screening previously, so it’s important that you understand what you can and cannot use to approve or decline a tenant during your application process.
Criminal History on a Case by Case Basis
Previously, rental property owners and property managers were able to use criminal history to deny an applicant during the screening process. It could be a blanket policy regarding criminal backgrounds. That is no longer what’s legally acceptable. Now, you need to take it on a case by case basis.
Demonstrating a Detriment
According to the new rules, when you do a criminal background check on a potential tenant, and something comes back that makes you want to deny that application, you must be able to show that accepting the tenant could be a detriment to the property, to other people in the building, or to the neighbors. For example, convictions on drug manufacturing or distribution charges would qualify as detrimental. If you find a conviction for property damage or harm to an individual, you can deny that tenant’s application. It’s important that you deny based on convictions only, and you take each criminal history on a case by case basis.
General Fair Housing Guidelines
2016 New Guidelines for Fair Housing – Property Management in Indianapolis, INThese new guidelines are in addition to the fair housing guidelines already in place to protect people from discrimination based on national origin, race, religion, sex, age, family status, and disability. Those laws are set, and you now need to pay attention to this new detail regarding criminal backgrounds.
If you need more information on fair housing laws and how to remain in compliance, please contact us at ES Property Management.