Recent HUD Guidance Will Continue to Cause Confusion, Opines TenantScreeningUSA.com

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In April 2016 the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a new guidance covering the use of criminal history as a part of a tenant screening policy. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com, recently commented on the guidance change and stated: "Now that a few months have passed since the guidance went into effect, a high level of confusion remains over the fair, legal, and lawful use of criminal records as part of tenant screening and points an immediate need for landlords to work with third-party tenant screening companies to remain in compliance."

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A best practice should be for all landlords and property managers to work with a third-party tenant screening company and, based on previous actions by EEOC litigated criminal violations in employment background screening HUD, is poised to do the same.

In April of 2016 the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a new guidance detailing the fair, lawful, and legal use of criminal background records and related inclusion of such in vetting tenants. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com opined: "HUDs new guidelines have led to confusion over the fair and legal use of criminal records within the tenant screening process and it is a matter of opinion that landlords and property managers should immediately work with third-party tenant screening companies in order to remain fully compliant and avoid potential litigation."

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has long been tasked with creating a fair and equal environment of inclusion for all individuals seeking housing, whether it is through ownership or rental. Recently, HUD released a new guidance regarding the fair and legal use of criminal history reports as part of the vetting process in rental properties.

From lexology.com (Jun. 16, 16):

Citing a disproportionately high rate of arrest and incarceration among minorities, especially African Americans and Latinos, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently issued new guidance announcing that blanket policies that would deny housing to individuals with criminal backgrounds are likely to violate the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Specifically, HUD will carefully scrutinize any policy that appears neutral on its face to determine if there is a disparate impact against minorities in excluding them from housing. HUD’s new compliance with respect to the use of criminal backgrounds for tenants follows in the footsteps of similar guidance issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) with respect to the use of criminal histories in employment decisions. (1)

Almeida states: "There is a high potential of confusion over this new guidance and as the EEOC continues to litigate the alleged illegal use of criminal records on the employment side it is a matter of time before HUD pursues legal action against the illegal or unlawful use of criminal records in tenant screening."

A recent article on 360Law.com offers the following observation (Apr. 22, 16):
The OGC (HUDs Office of General Counsel) guidance promises to radically alter the daily practice of thousands of housing providers around the country who routinely rely on criminal background checks to help protect their tenants and property from threats posed by persons with past criminal records. (2)

The San Francisco Chronicle offers a more direct comment (Apr. 08, 16):

Landlords who have a blanket ban on renting to people with criminal records could be charged with violating the federal Fair Housing Act... (3)

Almeida adds: "A best practice should be for all landlords and property managers to work with a third-party tenant screening company and, based on previous actions by EEOC litigated criminal violations in pre-employment background screening HUD, is poised to do the same. It is a smart move to be ready now."

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company that can provide screening packages for landlords and property managers with property holdings large and small. A highly trained staff can assist in creating Tenant Screening packages that will keep landlords and property managers in compliance with current and potential laws and regulations.

Notes:

(1) lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2a9e1d75-c33d-4be0-9754-ceac70c444f6
(2) law360.com/articles/788006/2nd-shoe-drops-hud-warns-crime-screening-may-violate-fha
(3) sfchronicle.com/business/networth/article/New-HUD-guidance-on-criminal-records-puts-7237897.php

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