IMPORTANT ALERT REGARDING RENTAL ADVERTISEMENTS: UNDER THE FAIR HOUSING ACT, AN ADVERTISEMENT CONTAINING A BLANKET PROHIBITION REGARDING A RENTAL APPLICANT’S CRIMINAL HISTORY CAN CONSTITUTE, IN AND OF ITSELF, UNLAWFUL RACE DISCRIMINATION.
Don’t become inadvertently and unintentionally liable for racial discrimination! A blanket prohibition regarding an applicant’s criminal history can constitute, in and of itself, unlawful race discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.
Recently, 48 Florida housing providers were sued for refusing ‘prior felony’ tenants
- Advertisements for rentals that say, “clean criminal record required,” or “no felonies,” could subject you to a lawsuit – even if you are only following directions from a landlord or Homeowners Association!
It doesn’t matter if you or your real estate licensee had no intention of ever committing an act of discrimination. Under the law, blanket prohibitions on applicants’ criminal records have a “disparate impact” on African Americans, and therefore can subject you to costly litigation.
Keep advertisements generic and not specific, such as simply saying “background check required” – and don’t represent one way or another to a potential renter whether a particular criminal conviction will result in a denial or acceptance.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: HUD, “Office of General Counsel Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transactions” (April 4, 2016). The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website is https://www.hud.gov.; a direct link to the publication can be found at: https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/hud_ogcguidappfhastandcr.pdf
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