New York City, NY

NYC Landlords to Exclude Criminal Records in Controversial Housing Bill

Sharee B.

A controversial new housing bill has been making its rounds across New York City and many are speaking out in protest.

Formally known as the Fair Chance for Housing Act, if passed it would prohibit landlords from using a potential tenant's criminal record against them when applying to rent a home or apartment.

"There's a continuation to deny housing to people with a record no matter what, or how long ago, or how minor, or what that offense was."-Keith Powers, NYC Councilman

The bill, which was proposed by New York City Council, would effectively bypass a renter's unsavory past, which would typically automatically exclude them from passing a rental background screening, regardless of other positive factors such as good credit history or income qualifications.

According to the National Employment Law Project, one out of every four adults has some type of criminal record, with charges ranging from small misdemeanors to serious felonies. Many of them go on to commit multiple crimes and end up in a revolving door of legal problems leading to constant incarceration.

However, rental screening companies such as CoreLogic, TransUnion, and RentPrep, have given landlords peace of mind when it comes to safeguarding their assets and protecting their communities from becoming high crime areas. Smaller landlords are also mitigating risks by using private investigators in order to ensure tenant safety.

According to data, the New York City crime rate has increased by over 31% during the summer months, with most of those being considered violent such as robbery and grand larceny. In addition, residents who once thought it was one of the safest cities around have been jolted by rampant crime amid the economic realities of the pandemic over the last two years.

Under New York City law, the measure only requires 26 votes in order to go to the Mayor. Currently, the Fair Chance for Housing bill has at least 29 supporters. As landlords across the city are speaking out in numbers, the probability of a final passage seems more likely by the day.

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