Criminals do not qualify as a protected class under the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). However, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the federal agency responsible for administering the FHA, recently issued a statement affording criminals certain protections when they apply to purchase or rent a residence.
Because of these protections, sellers and housing providers subject to the FHA, such as condominium and homeowners’ associations, should be careful to ensure their well-intentioned policy of checking applicants’ criminal history records doesn’t result in an FHA violation.
HUD issued the recent statement after analyzing national, state, and local statistics on arrest, conviction, and incarceration rates in the United States. The analysis results demonstrated that African Americans and Hispanics are arrested, incarcerated, and convicted at rates disproportionate to their share of the American population.
Given these disproportionate rates, HUD found that criminal records assessments were having a disproportionately negative impact on African Americans and Hispanics.
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