New York City May Ban Background Checks on Apartment Applicants

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New York City May Ban Background Checks on Apartment Applicants

The New York City Council is considering legislation that would make it easier for city residents with a criminal background to find housing. The Fair Chance for Housing Act is currently before the city legislature and supported by New York City’s Mayor.

New York City has previously banned criminal history checks on job applicants until after an offer has been made; however, this bill would restrict background checks on applicants for housing even more.

Specifically, the Fair Chance for Housing Act completely prohibits checks on an applicant’s criminal history unless it is for renting a room in a home the landlord also inhabits.

This law resembles several others found across the country, including Seattle and New Jersey. However, several organizations representing landlords, such as the Real Estate Board of New York, oppose the passage of the bill claiming it removes their ability to protect the rights of existing tenants. 

Additionally, opponents of the bill claim it is stricter than similar bills found elsewhere that allow landlords to search for specific types of convictions and give the applicant a chance to challenge decisions they think may be discriminatory. However, supporters of the bill believe that it is the only way to solve the city’s homelessness crisis.