T Nation

Landlords Cannot Ask About Criminal History. How Legal is This?

NJ of Course.

The reality is, this hurts other tenants more than landlords. Sorry black people, but you have no choice when it comes to living among criminals.

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The criminal justice system: racist except when involving sex crimes or when someone’s made meth in federally-assisted housing.

Anyway, instead of fixing poverty issues, it’s easier to put band-aid upon band-aid printed with whatever is fashionable at the time.

How about starting with stopping major corporations buying housing at inflated prices at negative interested, with borrowed monopoly money and with zero risk of their investment falling through? Or making those conditions available to the poor?

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As a landlord, this doesn’t seem that onerous. You can still run the background check, and still deny them if they come back with a certain criminal histories.

Also, it’s not hard to do your due diligence and back check their employment history, and tenant history. If they’ve been a good tenant and employee for the last few years they will likely continue. Bad tenants are fairly easy to spot, IMO.

sex crimes or when someone’s made meth in federally-assisted housing. They could have beat their last landlord to death and you can’t deny them.

… so that should be a red flag when you try to call them to check their landlord references…

I tend to agree here. Just because a rule says you can’t discriminate based on criminal history, doesn’t mean that a landlord can’t find other reasons to not rent to someone (even if their main concern is criminal activity). There is almost always something you could be rejected for, and people with criminal backgrounds probably have lots of things.

This sounds like a symbolic act after reading the EO. You can’t cut to the chase up front.

You can still refuse occupancy after a conditional offer is made and a background check is run.

This is a self congratulatory policy that will do nothing to improve outcomes for anyone who isn’t the Governor of New Jersey.


Right. The point is to not have an algorithm automatically disqualify a great tenant due to a crack conviction from 1989.

Odds are VERY high a recent criminal and bad tenant will have numerous other red flags pop up.

But is it a step in a certain direction?

Sure, you can call it incremental woke-ism not yet fully fleshed out in policy.

I’m all for giving anyone who has done their time a fair shake, but that’s never been what any of these policies end up accomplishing. Like everything, Democrats see a housing problem and conclude government has the answer without ever looking past their own nose to spot the easily predicted consequences.

See rent control, still being discussed as serious policy after decades of bad long term outcomes.

Why not keep moving the bar towards forcing landlords to house society’s worst?

@Californiagrown, @mnben87 - from your comments you seem to disagree with the idea that criminal history shouldn’t be considered when deciding on your tenant but like the idea of the government making it harder for you than necessary to get the information to make the decision. Why is this? Wouldn’t you rather get this information from a credible and reliable source than their last landlord who may have had a beef with thee tenant’s brother and make stuff up?

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Criminal history is one part of a tenants story, and the way background checks and (at least my) applications are set up makes it very easy to disqualify a candidate straight away based on that. Just check that box and anyone with a felony conviction ever gets their application nuked.

IME, job recs, paystubs, and landlord references carry 95% of the weight in picking tenants. People with bad or recent criminal histories will almost certainly have red flags there.

I see this as legislation that prevents continued punishment of someone for long ago crimes (eg crack conviction from the 80s or 90s). Do I have ideas on how the law could have been better written? Sure. But I don’t think any law is perfect.

I’d like to have seen an age limit on crimes, for example. Eg. Crimes over 15yrs old do not show up.

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