There's good news for those with criminal convictions, because the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has just ruled that landlords cannot discriminate against them. That would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act, and landlords can face penalties for doing do, the New York Times reported.
The new guidance was issued by HUD secretary Julian Castro in a statement yesterday about how fair housing laws should apply to those with criminal records. Although the Fair Housing Act doesn't explicitly protect ex-cons, landlords most follow certain guidelines when vetting possible tenants.
In cases where applicants have a criminal conviction, landlords who wish to exclude them must justify that decision.
“Policies that exclude persons based on criminal history must be tailored to serve the housing provider’s substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest and take into consideration such factors as the type of the crime and the length of the time since conviction,” the HUD's guidance states.
Castro said that numerous criminal convicts are being unfairly excluded due to the fact they have a criminal records, “regardless of what it was for or how long ago it happened”. He added that many of those with criminal records are being denied a fair chance at becoming productive members of society due to what he called a “blanket ban”.
The HUD reaffirmed that such “blanket bans” are illegal, and urges landlords to revise their screening policies to take into account the new guidance.