Rental Applicants with Criminal Histories – Can You Ban Those Tenants?

Do you own rental properties in Miami Florida or the surrounding area? If you’re like most landlords you have probably rented to your fair share of tenants in the past and have encountered some applicants with criminal histories.

The big question is can you choose to not rent to tenants with criminal histories? The answer to this question is no. Thanks to the Fair Housing Act, you must consider every tenant regardless if they have a criminal history or not.

What Does the Fair Housing Act Say?

Even though the Federal Fair Housing Act says that you must rent to tenants with criminal histories the reality is that you have options when it comes to which tenants you should consider renting to if you ask the following questions:

  • Was the individual convicted? There is a big difference between being arrested for a crime and being convicted of a crime. An arrest does not make a person guilty of anything, so a landlord should not reject a prospective tenant based only on an arrest.

  • What was the offense? What offense did the applicant actually commit? What was the nature of the crime? If this is not clear, consult a lawyer or police officer for clarification.

  • How serious was the offense? Did the applicant have to pay a fine or serve actual jail time for the offense committed? Did they steal a shirt from the mall, or did they shoot someone?

  • How recent was the offense? Did the applicant commit the offense last year, or did it occur 20 years ago?

  • How many offenses are there? Does the applicant have one criminal act to consider, or do they have a long list of offenses?

  • When did the offense(s) occur? If there are multiple offenses, did they all occur around the same period, or did the offenses take place over several different years?

  • Would other tenants be at risk? Does the nature of the crime the applicant committed put other tenants at risk? Some examples could be drug dealing, rape, child molestation, or assault and battery. A landlord is responsible for maintaining a safe environment for tenants.

  • Could the offense influence the applicant’s ability to pay rent? If the person has no past or current employment, you have the right to refuse to rent to the applicant based on an inability to make rent payments.

  • Could the offense put your rental property at risk? A landlord has the responsibility of keeping the rental property safe. Does the applicant’s criminal record put the rental property at risk? Some examples of potential risks are arson or vandalism.

Contact Miami Property Management, LLC

To learn more about renting to tenants with criminal histories, or to speak with us about our property management services, contact us today at (305) 428-3904 or click here to connect with us online.

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