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Officials Want Protections for Ex-Cons

law booksSan Francisco’s Human Rights Commission wants to limit a landlord’s ability to reject an applicant with a criminal history. 

In a letter to city lawmakers including the Mayor, the Human Rights Commission makes the case that housing discrimination against ex-cons interferes with their ability to re-enter the community.  According to a local news report, the District Attorney and law enforcement officials agree.

A number of large cities have similar laws regarding employment discrimination of ex-cons.  California has as many of seven million people with criminal records, according to the Commission.

The rules proposed by the HRC include a prohibition on inquiries regarding any arrests that did not lead to a conviction.  If the applicant’s record shows a conviction, only those crimes that are “housing-related” could be grounds for rejection of the applicant.

Housing-related crimes have a “reasonably direct negative bearing” on the safety of persons or property given the nature of the specific housing situation.  Landlords would not be required to rent to an ex-con if they share a bath or kitchen with tenants, or have fewer than three units.

Landlords have raised concerns that the proposal will make it harder to protect other tenants and increase the risk of lawsuits.  Those in rent-controlled cities already face difficulties in evicting tenants who commit crimes during the term of the lease.

Another concern over the proposal is whether it sets a bad precedent.  If applicants with criminal backgrounds are given protections while they rehabilitate, then what about those with poor credit?

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  • gary

    The State housed them – now it’s our turn.

  • Eric

    I just roll my eyes every time I even HEAR someone say San Francisco!

  • brassservices

    I don’t blame any tenant for having a firearm for their own protection. 2nd Amendment right to protect ones’ self and your family trumps anything I would ever enforce in a lease contract.

  • We only think we own the land. I’m a amazed at how government, at its various levels, can legislate us out of our basic property rights.

    Here’ s a brain stumper for you smart landlords out there, how can one screen an applicant to see if they have an open warrant for arrest from any or all jurisdictions? I’ve not found a way. I’m told that some of the big screeners have access to this data however they refuse to provide it as a screening option because it creates potential general liability implications if rental decisions are based on it.

  • Shannon

    There are other crimes for which a tenant should be rejected.
    Drug manufacture and selling, or child molestation.
    If landlords are not allowed to screen for these, it could put them at risk both legally and financially. This is rediculous.

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