Obama Admin Warns Landlords: Criminals Have a Right to Rent
May 20, 2016
The Obama Administration issued a warning to landlords that by refusing to rent to those with a criminal conviction it may be an act of discrimination.
The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a directive that citing the criminal record of a potential renter as cause to deny rent is often a form of racial discrimination. To be accurate the Fair Housing Act does not include criminals as a protected class. However in the HUD states "Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden Africa-Americans and Hispanics."
HUD Secretary Julian Castro says "When someone has been convicted of a crime and has paid their debt to society, then they ought to have an effective second chance at life. The ability to find housing is an indispensable second chance in life."
Opposing opinions about the new ruling are that the qualifying rules for selecting tenants are now blurred. What criminal acts are acceptable in home rentals? Are violent criminals now allowed in any neighborhood? Must convicted sex offenders be given rentals in family neighborhoods? Does a landlord have to accept a check forger's payment? The answer is yes, if the criminal has paid his/her debt to society and the screening process has no racial overtones to it.