Ban the Box Type Legislation Could Affect Tenant Screening; Opines TenantScreeningUSA.com

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A Criminal History report is often a stopping point for individuals seeking employment and housing, but cities such as Oakland, CA and, recently, the state of New Jersey are seeking ways to legislate the use of public records as part of tenant screening in order to make housing more attainable. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com opines: “Just as Ban the Box legislation has taken hold with the use of Criminal History Records in pre-employment background screening, a ban on the criminal history question in rental applications is taking hold, and landlords should take immediate action by working with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency, such as TenantScreeningUSA.com, in order to remain compliant with law.”

Tenant Background Checks Include Credit Report, Credit Score, Eviction Record Check, Criminal Background Check and Leasing Recommendation.

Tenant Screening USA

Ultimately, landlords and property managers should continue to monitor this significant change, one that could deeply affect how applicants are screened.

The state of New Jersey is working toward “Banning the box” on housing applications and is poised to join a handful of cities, including Oakland, CA, in legislating the use of Criminal Background Records as part of a housing application. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com opines: “States and Cities are beginning legislation on the use of criminal history records as part of a housing application review, and this represents a significant shift, one that landlords should review as they continue to work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency in order to remain compliant with changing law.”

Having a criminal record represents a significant challenge to hundreds of thousands of people across the United States. Every day they can be reminded of a past indiscretion, one that can create barriers for employment and housing. Often times housing is taken for granted, but for many it is a challenge that can feel insurmountable.

From AmericanProgress.org on April 14, 2021:

One in three people in the United States have a criminal record, meaning they are subjected to more than 44,000 associated legal sanctions. A criminal conviction can be a lifelong barrier to accessing services, employment, voting and civic engagement, and education and housing, as well as overall financial security for individuals and their families. The criminal legal system disproportionately affects communities of color, and Black people in particular, through more stops by police, arrests, and convictions, as well as higher rates of incarceration and longer sentences. (1)

Almeida adds: “Employment and housing are key to life, but many are left behind due to criminal histories. Minor convictions become enormous burdens to bear.”

In February of 2019, Oakland became one of the first cities in the country to ban the use of Criminal Histories as part of the rental housing vetting process. (2)

Recently, the state of New Jersey began the push for legislation controlling the use of criminal histories in housing.

From NJSpotlight.com on April 28, 2021:

New Jersey lawmakers and social-justice advocates launched a push Tuesday for legislation to help the formerly incarcerated rent an apartment by curtailing the ability of landlords to deny housing to some people based on their criminal histories.

The Fair Chance Housing Act, embodied in S-250 and A-1919, is an effort to “ban the box” that asks whether a person has been convicted of a crime on housing-rental applications. The bills would still allow a landlord to ultimately deny renting to someone with a criminal record based on certain criteria and if the landlord has a “substantial, legitimate and nondiscriminatory interest” in doing so. But failure to follow the law would subject a landlord to penalties. (3)

Almeida concludes: “Ultimately, landlords and property managers should continue to monitor this significant change, one that could deeply affect how applicants are screen. A best practice remains in working with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency in order to remain compliant with law.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com provides full-service tenant screening for landlords and property managers of any size and can greatly assist in remaining fully compliant with all existing law governing tenant screening. With a highly trained and experienced staff, TenantScreeningUSA.com can provide help to landlords and property managers with all their tenant screening needs.

Notes:
(1)    americanprogress.org/issues/poverty/news/2021/04/14/498053/preventing-removing-barriers-housing-security-people-criminal-convictions/
(2)    nextcity.org/daily/entry/the-ban-the-box-housing-policy-movement-catching-on-across-the-country
(3)    njspotlight.com/2021/04/nj-legislation-criminal-background-checks-renters-application-discrimination-fines-for-landlords/#

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