For a better understanding of the policies and procedures landlords can safely use to check the criminal history of housing applicants, the National Association of REALTORS® offers a list of recommended ideas based on information supplied by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The list of recommendations will help landlords avoid violations of the Fair Housing Act that would have a disproportionate effect on minorities or other protected classes of people. This issue surfaced in June 2015 when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold a Court of Appeals ruling that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had contributed to “segregated housing patterns by allocating too many tax credits to housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods.” See National Public Radio story.
The NAR tries to clarify the issue for REALTORS® in an article, “Fair Housing Act: Criminal History-Based Practices and Policies,” that urges housing providers to use caution in developing policies. A list of “Do’s” offers recommendations in a positive manner. A list of “Don’ts” explains what needs to be avoided.