Quick Reference Regulatory Alert: Criminal Background Screening

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Please note, the information outlined below is not intended to serve as legal advice. It simply provides an outline of the issue and the situation at hand. In the event you are faced with this issue, we urge and encourage you to consult your attorney or legal counsel. 

Please be aware, recently, the filing of lawsuits against apartment communities in and around our market relating to criminal background screening has been brought to the association's attention. 

These lawsuits are based upon a “tester” calling leasing offices, indicating they have a felony on their record, and allegedly, being informed by the leasing office that applicants with felonies will be automatically denied. A lawsuit is then filed against the apartment community as a violation of the Fair Housing Act, under the theory of disparate impact.

To limit liability, AAGO members should review their current criminal screening policies and ensure all staff members are properly trained and equipped with information pertinent to this issue. 

To this end, please make sure to practice your due diligence by reviewing the additional resources offered by the Florida Apartment Association (FAA) and the National Apartment Association (NAA), outlined below: 

  1. Review the HUD guidance that was issued in April 2016.
  2. Read NAA's Criminal Conviction Screening Policies: Best Practices to Avoid Disparate Impact Liability
  3. Review NAA's updated document titled, "Resident Screening Best Practices"
  4. Assess your criminal screening policy to determine if any changes should be made to avoid disparate-impact liability.
  5. Contact your attorney or in-house legal counsel for guidance and advice.