Big Changes from HUD Impact Fair Housing and Rental Properties

Until April 4, 2016 in SC, landlords and property managers could legally discriminate against criminals.

Criminals are not a fair housing protected class.

Today, HUD policy change is that landlords and property managers have to take steps before legally discriminating against criminals.

First, there cannot be a blanket policy to reject all criminals with exceptions for drug dealers and drug manufacturers.

Second to reject a rental applicant based on a criminal conviction, the landlords and property managers must look at the conviction and how it relates to safety in the rental as well as factor in date of conviction, type of crime, any related information such as rehabilitation or references.

As always, any rental policy has to be applied fairly to all rental applicants. Landlords and property managers should not do criminal background checks only on persons of color. Likewise, landlords and property managers making allowances for convictions must apply the allowances equally to persons of color.

This is a big change.

Some landlords and property managers may have been using a blanket policy to deny all rental applicants with criminal convictions precisely to avoid fair housing issues.

Now with HUD requiring landlords and property managers to evaluate convictions instead of using a blanket policy, the HUD required use of evaluation might actually increase the risk for fair housing violations. So, use good judgment.

Federal HUD finds that the “disparate impact” of convictions on persons of color is based on conviction statistics compared to overall population numbers and correlates with fair housing protected classes of race, color, and national origin.

HUD has determined that persons of color have higher statistical rates of conviction and therefore blanket rejections on rental applicants will disparately impact protected classes (race, color, religion) in seeking rental housing.

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