It is easy to discriminate against people with past criminal verdicts, especially regarding housing. Fortunately, the Fair Chance in Housing Act (FCHA) has provisions to minimize discrimination and give everyone equal housing opportunities.
According to the FCHA, including criminal records in an application process is unlawful. This policy limits landlords or housing providers from requesting an applicant’s criminal history before extending an offer.
This law applies to the following details of your criminal history:
- Arrests or charges made without convictions
- Convictions expunged from public record
- Executively pardoned convictions
- Details of juvenile delinquency
- Sealed records
- Nullified convictions
The FCHA also forbids drug or alcohol testing as a requirement for housing applicants and retaliation after an applicant reports a violation.
Are there exceptions?
The FCHA allows two exceptions: verdicts of drug-related offenses and information if the applicant is on a state sex offender registry. Also, this policy allows housing providers to assess an applicant’s criminal record only after extending a conditional offer.
It must have a disclosure statement telling the applicant that the appraisal process includes their criminal records and other mitigating factors, such as rehabilitation evidence.
Even so, landlords can only use the following as considerations:
- Convictions of severe crimes, including murder, kidnapping, arson, sexual assault and human trafficking
- Offenses that require sex offender registration
- Indictable offenses
They can decide what to do next after reviewing these details.
Can they withdraw an offer?
A landlord can only withdraw their offer for nondiscriminatory reasons based on the offense’s details and its risk or impact if it happens again. If they decide to withdraw the offer, the applicant can file an appeal, indicating information about any FCHA violations.