California CRD Settles Housing Provider Criminal Record Discrimination Case

December 04, 2023

The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) has announced a settlement agreement with a property management company and owner. This settlement resolved complaints that an Inglewood apartment complex refused to consider potential tenants with criminal histories. 

According to the agreement, the company and owner must update their screening policies to comply with state regulations. They must also provide personnel with training on fair housing regulations and pay $10,000 in monetary compensation. The CRD’s investigation began after receiving a complaint that the respondents had a blanket ban on renting to individuals with a criminal background. 

The Complaint

According to the complaint, this ban adversely affected black renters. Other than the criminal background, the individual who filed the complaint claimed to qualify as a renter. However, they alleged that the company chose not to rent to them due to a criminal background check. They further argued that the respondents failed to consider court documents. Reviewing this information would have indicated that he never received a conviction, proving the screening report inaccurate.

Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), housing providers cannot enforce a blanket ban on potential renters with criminal histories. These regulations require housing providers to base application decisions on a direct link between a given conviction and a specific non-discriminatory interest or purpose. The FEHA includes examples such as the safety of other residents, employees, or the property.

What to Consider

Housing providers should consider the nature or severity of the crime when determining its connection to interest or purpose. They should also note the time elapsed since the applicant’s criminal conduct. It is also crucial to only consider accurate and permissible criminal records. These do not include arrests that did not lead to a conviction, sealed, dismissed, or expunged convictions, and most adjudications or matters processed in the juvenile justice system.

The FEHA protects California residents from employment and housing discrimination, among other concerns. The CRD enforces the FEHA. According to the settlement, the CRD required the company and owner to:

  • Continue to comply with federal and state housing regulations;
  • Train all relevant staff regarding fair housing laws with a focus on how criminal history information can have a disparate impact on certain populations;
  • Update their tenant screening policies to comply with state regulations;
  • Display a CRD Fair Housing Fact Sheet in specified areas of the facilities and
  • Pay $10,000 made payable to the complainant.

This settlement illustrates the importance of accurate and thorough criminal record checks. It also emphasizes how employers and landlords must comply with FEHA regulations. Working with a trustworthy background check provider can help companies and owners avoid violating these regulations.

JDP makes background checks easy and reliable. Speak with a compliance expert today.