[Sticky] Important HUD Document (Rental Housing)
Back in 2016, HUD made an importance announcement regarding people with criminal records and blanked bans for rental housing. This may be a good document to have on hand when you search for rentals. Landlords and property managers need to be reminded that they may face a lawsuit if they impose a blanket ban. Here is a snippet from the announcement. The entire announcement in PDF form is attached.
"In most instances, a record of conviction (as opposed to an arrest) will serve as sufficient evidence to prove that an individual engaged in criminal conduct. But housing providers that apply a policy or practice that excludes persons with prior convictions must still be able to prove that such policy or practice is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest. A housing provider that imposes a blanket prohibition on any person with any conviction record –no matter when the conviction occurred, what the underlying conduct entailed, or what the convicted person has done since then –will be unable to meet this burden."
Although a renter cannot make a blanket ban that excludes persons with prior convictions, they can make a ban against people with certain types of convictions, right (e.g., sex offenses)? I see almost all renters in the Seattle area have this ban. Even the government ads for low income offerings discriminate against sex offenders. King county in WA state has about 15 apartment buildings in which they offer basic housing to people with criminal convictions, only two of which accept sex offenders. Of course, those two are filled and the waiting list is so long that they are not even accepting additional people on the waiting list.
Seattle has the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance. I'm attached the "Sex Offender" portion of the ordinance below. What's important to read is where it states in question #20.
Question #20 states:
"Can I write or say, “no sex offenders,” or something similar when advertising a unit for rent or talking to potential applicants?
No. Although you may screen applicants through a sex offender registry, you may not automatically or categorically exclude applicants with criminal histories related to sex offenses.
If landlords and property managers (within Seattle city limits) state that they can't rent to you because of your sex offense, they are breaking the law.
So, let me get this straight. They can do a background check and not rent to you because you have a sex offense, but they just can't list that on the advertisement nor tell you that up front? Seems a little crazy. I think I'd rather know up front, so I don't waste my money on the application fee.
Well, after reading what you posted above about the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance, I can tell you that a lot of Seattle private and agency renters are breaking the law!
Actually, it states:
Although you may screen applicants through a sex offender registry, you may not automatically or categorically exclude applicants with criminal histories related to sex offenses.
"You may not."
But a lot of landlords will say your credit isn't good enough but the real reason for denial is the sex offense. Its wrong and discriminatory.
More people need to file lawsuits.