Recent HUD Actions Indicate Heightened Legal Activity Which May Significantly Impact Tenant Screening; Opines TenantScreeningUSA.com

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A recent opinion piece on SparkRental.com suggests and a review of the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirms increased legal activity regarding Fair Housing Act enforcement. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states: “HUD is charged with creating fair and equitable housing across all segments of American society and when combined with a recent guidance (Apr. 16) continues to severely impact the legal and lawful use of criminal records in tenant screening."

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TenantScreeningUSA.com

With new HUD directives increased enforcement of the Fair Housing Act as well as the lawful use of criminal records in tenant screening may occur.

A recent guidance by the Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding the use of criminal background records as part of tenant screening and combined with recent legal activity by the department clearly suggests new challenges for landlords and property managers. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states: “A quick perusal of the HUD website clearly shows heightened legal activity that will affect landlords and property managers and suggests an immediate need to work with a third-party tenant screening company in order to maintain full legal compliance.”

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com continues: “Fair Housing Laws remain complex and for the average landlord or property manager easy to violate. Disparate impact also remains a challenging concept and, when combined with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a ruling in April 2016, a greater burden on landlords especially with the use of criminal history reports.”

“When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC announced their guidance regarding the discriminatory use of criminal records as part of pre-employment screening legal activity increased substantially. One need only review the EEOC website. With new HUD directives increased enforcement of the Fair Housing Act as well as the lawful use of criminal records in tenant screening may occur.    Legal action against landlords and property managers who utilize criminal histories inappropriately and in violation of law could occur;” Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com opines

HUD is tasked with eliminating discriminatory practices in all aspects of housing, in both the public and private sector.

In April 2016 NPR (NPR.org; Apr. 04, 16) reported on HUD’s guidance and the effect it will have on reducing discrimination in housing. It clarifies the distinction of what HUD’s expectations are, specifically in relation to so-called “blanket policies.”

From NPR.org (Apr. 04, 16):

People with criminal records aren't a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, and the guidance from HUD's general counsel says that in some cases, turning down an individual tenant because of his or her record can be legally justified. (1)

Also from NPR.org (Apr. 04, 16):

But blanket policies of refusing to rent to anybody with a criminal record are de facto discrimination, the department says — because of the systemic disparities of the American criminal justice system. (2)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com comments: “The amount of pressure HUD has put on landlords and property managers is significant and should not be taken lightly. Just as the EEOC has continuously pursued legal activity so too will HUD. One need only look at their recent activity to see the immediate and urgent need that all rental entities work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening company in order to maintain compliance with law.”

A list of current HUD legal activity can be found at justice.gov/crt/recent-accomplishments-housing-and-civil-enforcement-section

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company with highly trained operators well versed in the needs and requirements of landlords and property managers utilizing public records, such as criminal records, as part of the tenant screening process. Assisting rental companies in maintaining full compliance under the law is a central tenet of all client relationships with TenantScreeningUSA.com

Notes:

(1)    npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/04/472878724/denying-housing-over-criminal-record-may-be-discrimination-feds-say
(2)    npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/04/472878724/denying-housing-over-criminal-record-may-be-discrimination-feds-say

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