March 14, 2024

Connecticut’s legislature is considering a bill concerning prospective tenants’ criminal records. House Bill 5242 (HB 5242) would prevent landlords from reviewing criminal records past a specific time frame when determining a potential tenant’s eligibility. Though it passed the Housing Committee, it still awaits further decision-making.

The bill would limit landlords’ ability to consider potential tenants’ felony criminal convictions. It bars landlords from considering criminal record information with history greater than three years old. However, HB 5242 offers limited exceptions when deciding whether to rent to a potential tenant.

For example, HB 5242 has a carve-out addressing individuals with convictions that could significantly impact a community’s safety and well-being. This carve-out includes rental applicants with convictions for producing methamphetamines in public assisted housing. HB 5242 also makes an exception for those with a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender.

Landlords cannot consider most convictions older than three years when deciding whether to negotiate or make a rental agreement. Furthermore, HB 5242 requires landlords to commit to further decision-making when making adverse leasing decisions based on criminal histories. As such, they must provide the rental applicant with a notice of the intended adverse decision. HB 5242 also requires landlords to consider related mitigating factors when reviewing the convictions.

Landlords must consider several mitigating factors before committing to a decision. Such examples include the nature of the convictions, the surrounding circumstances, the time that has elapsed since the conduct, the individual’s age at the time, any evidence of rehabilitation, their employment status, and any tenant history before/since the conviction. These housing providers must give the rental applicant at least five business days to respond to the notice. The response may include any mitigating information about the conviction to help prove the applicant’s eligibility as a fitting tenant. 

HB 5242 has received considerable support and opposition from different groups, as represented in a long eight-hour session with Connecticut’s Housing Committee. This discussion covered measures that would significantly impact tenant evictions, how one addresses a potential tenant’s criminal background, and notices of rent increases. The bill related to evictions over lease expirations is Senate Bill 143

Several critics argued that these bills negatively impact property rights and could complicate landlord-tenant relationships. More have commented on increased liability risks due to HB 5242’s limitations when considering criminal backgrounds. Despite these debates, the Committee voted to advance the bill. As a result, the legislation will now head to the floors of the House and Senate for further discussion.

Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.