Criminal Background Checks

Criminal Background Checks – HUD’s Published Perspective


Criminal background checks—always a popular issue.  Of course you can use them to screen prospective applicants, right?  You may be surprised.


The use of criminal background checks in the residential housing rental and lease application process has recently become a hot button issue.  Back on April 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing And Urban Development’s (“HUD”) General Counsel issued a 10-page memorandum on “Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transactions” (“Guidance”). 



Phil Querin Q&A: Background Checks and the Fed's 7 Year Rule


Question.  I spoke with someone recently who informed me that Federal Law (i.e. the Fair Credit Reporting Act) prohibits criminal background checks beyond seven years.  Yet I am concerned that with some crimes, e.g. child molestation, it would be important to know if there were any convictions, not just those within the last seven years.  It also appears that HUD seems to be saying the same thing.  I am getting mixed information on this issue. Can you help clarify?


Phil Querin Q&A - Vetting Criminal History In The Application Process


Question: We recently had an applicant (with a criminal history) that management rejected for an RV spot we had available. The criminal background check disclosed that the applicant had a prior burglary and criminal mischief conviction in 2008. He pled guilty and was given a 20-day jail sentence, with 18 months’ probation. He accepted our rejection without argument, but upon reflection, I’m concerned whether our manager may have been too hasty in light of the recent court rulings and Department of Justice pronouncements on how we should use criminal background information when one applies for housing.  Should we have handled this any differently?


Phil Querin Analysis and Tips for Community Owners and Managers - HUD's New Memo on Landlord’s Use of Criminal Records Under The Fair Housing Act



Background. On April 4, 2016, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) issued its “Office of General Counsel Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transactions” (hereinafter, the “Memo”). The full text of the 10-page Memo can be found here. Not surprisingly, it follows the June 25, 2015 ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court, in the Texas Dept. of Housing vs. Inclusive Communities case, which upheld the much-debated concept of “disparate impact” under the Fair Housing Act, as amended (the Act”).