Anyone can access public criminal conviction records online through the Conviction Database, a repository of records maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). These records would contain all criminal convictions for a Class B misdemeanor or higher. The Texas Office of Court Administration also maintain some state and county-level court records.
Landlords are among the individuals and businesses who have the right to conduct background checks on prospective tenants. They need only your full name, birth date, and social security number to access any public criminal record information. Given the ease with which they can access this information, it should be no surprise that many landlords regularly utilize background checks to screen out potential tenants.
However, landlords will not have access to private criminal records. Perhaps the best example of a private criminal record are criminal records of juvenile offenders, which are sealed and off-limits to the public.
Nonetheless, landlords are not allowed to automatically reject rental applicants with a criminal history or advise them to not bother applying. Taking a blanket approach to deny rental housing to all individuals with a criminal background can violate the Fair Housing Act. Instead, a landlord rejecting prospective tenants based on criminal background must give the individuals notice orally, electronically, or in writing. Landlord also must give the applicants contact information for the company that ran the background check, notice of their right to fix any errors on their report, and give them a free copy of the background check report within 60 days.
Of course, the easiest ways to avoid having your rental applications rejected by landlords is to not have a criminal history in the first place. If you are able to avoid a criminal conviction, you may have a better chance of avoiding rejected rental applications.
When you are facing any criminal charges in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 399-2311 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.