Ban-the-box Legislation in Tenant Screening Will Be Game Changer, States

Recently Washington DC lawmakers have advanced a bill banning the question of “criminal history” from all tenant rental applications.  Adam Almeida, President and CEO of opines: “The move by the DC City Council to ban-the-box on tenant applications is a game changer and could have significant consequence across the country.”

The Washington DC City Council has moved forward potential legislation that would ban-the-box on tenant applications.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of opines:  “The potential effect of the Washington DC City Council over banning-the-box on rental applications could have an enormous impact.  Much like ban-the-box legislation governing the fair, legal, and lawful use of criminal records in pre-employment background screening has had significant impact in employment screening a similar effect will be felt in tenant screening.”

From (Dec. 05, 16):

In language that closely mirrors “ban-the-box” legislation barring employers from asking about criminal history on job applications, a bill advanced last week by the D.C. City Council’s Committee on the Judiciary would prohibit landlords from asking potential tenants about prior convictions before making a housing offer, reports DCist. (1)

Ban-the-box legislation in employment removes the question of criminal history from the application and delays when the question of a criminal history can actually be asked during the hiring process.  In most cases the question of criminal history can only be asked after an offer of employment has been made to the candidate.
From (Dec. 05, 16):

Under the Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act of 2016, co-introduced by McDuffie in April, landlords will not be allowed to ask about prior convictions before extending a conditional housing offer. Around 60,000 D.C. residents have criminal conviction records, according to the Washington Lawyer’s Committee, and about 8,000 more people are released each year.

Once landlords make a housing offer, they are allowed to take into account certain types of convictions — including rape, murder, assault, arson, robbery, sex abuse and fraud — if they’ve occurred in the past seven years. The offer can then be revoked only if the landlord determines “on balance, that the withdrawal achieves a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest.” (2)

Enacting ban-the-box legislation regarding rental properties is a move to reduce discrimination during the vetting process.

Almeida states:  “This legislation does not eliminate the use of criminal background records.  Rather, it controls the exact timing and use.

The action in Washington DC is not new as there are a few communities with intiatives such as Washington’s.  However, it is a clear indication of banning-the-box in the rental space gaining traction.  Property managers and landlords should take note.

From (Nov. 30, 16):

While more than 100 cities and counties and 13 states have “ban the box” laws on the books, initiatives for housing applications are less common. San Francisco; Los Angeles; Dane County, Wisconsin; and Champaign, Illinois are among the handful of jurisdictions around the country with similar ordinances to the one the D.C. Council is considering. (3)

Almeida concludes:  “Again, the move by the DC City Council is a definite game changer, one landlords and property managers should immediately take note.  Working with a third-party tenant screening company is certainly a best practice specifically to stay in full compliance.” is a third-party tenant screening company with highly trained investigators well versed in the legal and lawful use of criminal history reports, and all public record reports, as part of a tenant check



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