Recent Lawsuit Regarding Landlord’s Ex-Offenders Policy Highlights Continued Risk & Challenge in Tenant Screening; Opines

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A recent lawsuit in Chicago highlights the need for landlords and/or property managers to work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency, such as in order to remain fully compliant and educated with laws governing tenant screening. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of opines: “Landlords and property managers should work with well-qualified and highly trained tenant screening agencies, such as, in order to avoid the potential of legal action."

Reports include credit report, credit score, criminal check, eviction check and leasing recommendations.

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Landlords should take immediate notice and make sure tenant screening policies are equal and fair across all legal categories as the Department of Justice continues to bring legal actions.

In Chicago, Illinois a recent legal action suggests that a landlord of a large rental community may have utilized potentially discriminatory tenant screening policies that allegedly prevented an African-American man the opportunity to rent an apartment. Situations such as this may be avoided through education and utilizing a quality tenant screening agency. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of opines: “Landlords and property managers should take immediate notice and make sure tenant screening policies are equal and fair across all legal categories as the Department of Justice continues to bring legal actions.”

In Chicago an ex-offender allegedly was not allowed to rent an apartment due to policies denying rentals based on conviction history.

From (Oct 24, 18):

An ex-offender was barred from renting an apartment in Washington Park because of a policy denying rentals to those with convictions in the past 25 years. A civil rights group says the policy disproportionately impacts African-Americans.

A Chicago man sued a billion-dollar residential development firm based in Northbrook, claiming that the firm's policy of declining to rent to people with convictions in the past 25 years effectively discriminates against African-American applicants. (1)

Almeida adds: “The DOJ will bring suit utilizing the theory of disparate impact, an often complicated and challenging concept to comprehend. Essentially when a landlord or property manager creates a policy that disproportionally affects a protected class, the potential of bias and discrimination can be high. Subsequently, the DOJ may bring suit against such policies.”

From (Oct 24, 18):

The case, filed in U.S. District Court *, notes that the Fair Housing Act "prohibits housing policies that appear to be neutral on their face but have a disparate impact on the basis of race." It asks the court to award damages to Adams, in an amount determined by the jury. (2)

This is not the first time the DOJ has brought action against a landlord or apartment development.

From (Oct 24, 18):

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) recently filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee against an apartment development and its property Management Company alleging violations of sections 3604(a) and 3604(b) of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Specifically, the complaint challenges the management company’s policy of rejecting applications for tenancy if any member of the household had a felony conviction within the past 10 years and instructed that in the event of such a conviction “consideration shall be given to favorable changes in the households’ pattern of behavior, a lapse of years since occurrence of an offense [,] and to other extenuating circumstances.” The complaint further asserts that the defendants improperly rejected the application of a black felon and issued a Letter of Banishment to the black felon, but either accepted the applications of white felons or did not issue Letters of Banishment to white felons. In the complaint, DOJ seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages. (3)

Almeida concludes: “Ultimately a landlord and/or property manager can stay ahead of any potential risk through education. a product that is FCRA complaint and can generate a non-discriminatory leasing recommendation is an ideal solution that avoids the potential of human bias.” is a third-party tenant screening company with highly trained investigators well versed in the legal and lawful use of criminal history reports, and all public record reports, as part of a tenant background check. All reports are based on the most current information, accurate, and fully compliant.

(2)    ibid

Case: 1:18-CV-07095

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