In a nutshell, if a purchaser or renter (who is denied) proves that the criminal screening policy has a discriminatory effect, the housing provider must then justify the policy. HUD has stated that denials based on prior arrests or prior convictions generally cannot be justified. To justify the policy, the housing provider must distinguish between criminal conduct that is a “demonstrable risk to resident safety and/or property”, and criminal conduct that is not. The policy should be specific as to the nature, severity and recency of the criminal conduct that would warrant a denial.
In light of this ruling, I will be as specific as possible on criminal conduct. I think it should be limited to felony convictions involving violence, damage to property, sexual misconduct and/or minors. Further, it appears that we need to address the recency of the conviction. I am suggesting that the convicted felon would need to have his or her civil rights restored by the State for at least 5 years, with no additional convictions on the record.