17 Apr HUD Guidance on Criminal Background Checks Means more Fair Housing Testers
On April 4th, 2016 The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a “guidance” statement. The statement was in regards to landlord liability, criminal background checks and applications for residential living. What this means is that HUD Guidance on Criminal Background Checks Means more Fair Housing Testers.
You can find the HUD document here: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=hud_ogcguidappfhastandcr.pdf
This issue will continue to change and and develop. It will also result in ongoing debate and subsequent legal challenges. Testers are now checking on places to determine violations of the HUD Guidance Statement.
What this means is that Fair Housing Testers will be conducting landlord testing programs in an area near you. To learn more about Fair Housing Testers go to: https://www.justice.gov/crt/fair-housing-testing-program-1
Areas of Concern
- When processing residential rental applications do not permanently ban all criminal activity. .
- An arrests may not be considered as part of the background check. The reason is the case might be thrown out or never go to trial. You should be safe in making your decisions based upon convictions. When in doubt call a lawyer.
- Crimes “MAY” be ranked or categorized based upon the type of crime ONLY if CONSISTENTLY APPLIED.
- Justification – The property may ban certain activities for the safety of residents*. The ban MUST be IN WRITING and must be Consistently Applied.
* Example: A property manager might ban violent felons and sex offenders, but allow, after some set time, non-violent offenders of various types.
Protect yourself and your business. No matter what your feelings may be, NEVER act in a discriminatory fashion.
Use a real tenant screening service that understands what is at stake like Rent Perfect.
When in doubt, seek legal assistance. This is not a fully matured legal issue. There have been few court cases and the legal process on this ruling is still evolving.
This is an issue based upon and around non-intentional discrimination and may be applied differently at in each Federal Court and Judicial Region of the country.
If you don’t think testing really happens consider that “Illinois Legal Aid Online” hires Fair Housing Testers. https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/for-legal-professionals/volunteer-opportunities/fair-housing-tester-stipend-and-travel-reimbursement
Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel.
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