Home‎ > ‎Denied a rental unit‎ > ‎

criminal record

Denial based on criminal record can be challenged

Many housing providers have standards that address prior criminal records...
still folks with records need to find a place to live

1. Talk to a lawyer about using Ohio's new Expungement law to clear your record. It won't work for everyone, but could clear your name enough that you can answer truthfully about criminal background. Here's a primer on what is required to qualify.

2. Offer prospective landlord some evidence of your rehabilitation-if it is an old record and you can show that you have been a good tenant in other properties (eg. landlord references)...that can make a difference.

3. HUD has issued guidance to public housing authorities and private section 8 owners stating that applications from ex offenders should be reviewed based on many factors. See Donovan letter attached below.

4. HUD has just issued new guidance stating that there never was a one strike policy and reminding PHAs that arrest records are not grounds to evict or deny. See attached below.

5. Joe in Columbus reminds us that using a reasonable accommodation may be another way to challenge a denial based on criminal record. If a homeseeker can show that a criminal record was the result of a disability (eg. alcoholism, mental illness) homeseeker can ask for a reasonable accommodation of the rule. NOT SIMPLE! But this has been a successful strategy in some cases. Joe-thanks for reminding us about this option!

 Tactics can make the difference
1.  Just asking "what is the policy" can make a housing provider think twice about a denial.
2.  Making a request for a reconsideration based on reasonableness or possible discrimination (disparate impact or reasonable accommodation) can move the discussion from "no" to "well lets look at the facts..."
3.  Most landlords want to have a reliable rentpayer who is not a threat to her/his neighbors.  Make that case...and you have a chance of success.

Restrictions on Sex Offenders is still a tough nut to crack.

The "legal hysteria" over sex offenders has made housing providers extremely inflexible. It is easier (and safer) to just say "no" and depend on inflexible laws to protect their decisions.

But how do you feel, really?
Akron's Lynn Clark has done a study of landlord attitudes towards returning citizens. You can read your report and draw your own conclusions. It's attached at the bottom of this page.

Spencer Wells,
Jan 8, 2016, 7:41 AM
Spencer Wells,
Jan 8, 2016, 8:50 AM