Landlords often have strict requirements when screening tenant applications in order to find the best tenants for the property. Individuals with criminal records often find themselves struggling to find rental property to live in, and landlords are often hesitant to offer housing when they do see a criminal history. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has stated that landlords turning down tenants based on criminal records may violate the Fair Housing Act.

Criminal Background History and Tenant Screening

One in four Americans has a criminal record. People seeking property can find their former issue from decades ago stops them from being able to rent property. In fact, some people end up living with family members simply because they are constantly rejected for having a criminal history. Sometimes the applicant is rejected because the offense was quite severe; however, there are many situations when there was an arrest without a conviction. As there are many people with small crimes or crimes that are not endangering others if they were to rent a property, HUD has started to step in to try and stop the discrimination. 

Blanket refusal to rent to individuals with criminal backgrounds can no longer happen. Does the landlord’s policy have a discriminatory impact? HUD has found that many minorities are unable to rent because of their criminal background history. All criminal backgrounds are not the same, which can make it hard for tenant screening. Banning people simply because they have a record can no longer happen. Policies need to be updated to include tenant screening that reduces the discriminatory impact. Some things to update in the policy include what the crime was, how long ago it happened, and additional factors that could jeopardize the health and safety of other tenants.

Sex Offenders and Tenant Applications

There is a lot of grey area with tenants and criminal history. Sometimes a person comes in, fills out an application and seems to be the ideal candidate. However, when you run the background check you may find out they are a registered sex offender. Having a sex offender move into the building can instantly make the rest of the tenants uneasy. In fact, many tenants may threaten to move out if a registered sec offender move in, which is why many sex offenders cannot find housing. A property management company is often hired to help deal with some of these issues to ensure tenants are safe, and everyone is treated equally during the tenant screening process. 

Some things to include with the tenant screening process include:

  1. Clear rental application that requires employment history, income, criminal history, bank statements, personal history, and references.
  2. Credit report and financial record information to determine if they can afford to rent the property, or decide if they have a history of late payments and poor money management skills.
  3. Background check to identify criminal records, evictions, and lawsuits.
  4. Contact the previous landlord to ask about their history and how they were as a tenant.
  5. Contact their employer to make sure they do work there and have a steady income. 

Tenant screening is vital to make sure you are renting to people that deserve the property. Failure to take time to screen their tenants can reduce the risk of tenant eviction in the future. As tenant screening and criminal history can be difficult, we recommend contacting Keyrenter Property Management in Highlands Ranch. Our expert team has created a successful tenant screening process that works, and we can help you bring in tenants that are qualified and will be excellent tenants.