While federal and state laws prohibit landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants on various grounds, including race, religion, and disability, there is no state or federal law that specifically prohibits landlords from refusing to rent to prospective tenants who have criminal convictions in their past. This is true even if a tenant has no current criminal charges or convictions, but only a 20-year-old felony conviction.
However, there has been policy guidance issued recently by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that landlords who refuse to rent to tenants with any criminal may be committing illegal discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act. This guidance is based on a disparate impact theory; basically, if landlords refuse to rent to those individuals with criminal records, they also will be refusing to rent to more Hispanic or African-American individuals than white individuals, who make up a greater share of the prison population.
Nonetheless, while it might violate the law for landlords to simply refuse to rent to anyone who has any criminal history whatsoever, it probably is not illegal for landlords to take a person’s criminal history into account, along with other factors, in deciding not to rent to that person. So the short answer is that yes, your criminal convictions still may affect your ability to rent an apartment. The last thing that landlords want is to rent to individuals whom they believe will end up committing crimes on their property.
Whatever your case entails, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that you raise all of the relevant defenses. At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you against any criminal charges that you may be facing. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.