NYC Apartments: Criminal Background Checks Yes Or No? (Poll)

By | December 1, 2022

You Are Currently Renting An Apartment in a New York City Building…

The question is whether building management and others in the building have the right to be aware if another apartment in the building is going to be rented to someone with a criminal record?

The NYC ‘Fair Chance for Housing Act’ will be debated on December 8th before the City Council’s Committee on Civil Rights…

It appears to have the votes for passage, and would prevent New York City landlords from doing criminal background checks on prospective apartment renters.

But should landlords have the option to run these checks if they choose?

Bottom Line

Is outlawing criminal background checks a good and fair idea as a potential renter has the right to privacy (and a second chance if they served their time for a crime), or do other tenants in a building have the right to know if a convicted felon will be living next door?

Have an opinion? Leave it in the comments below…

Some previous comments…

  1. Let’s have The Fortune Society and its members weigh in here.

    I’m going out on a limb by saying some things that will not sit well with many. Throwing the book at people has never solved problems. Let’s consider an operation from a space of empathy.

    Years ago, I saw the play The Castle. The story of Casimiro “Cas” Torres was particularly heartwrenching. If you haven’t seen the play, check it out.

    Until we deal with the issues that feed problems of this kind, the legislature will be forced to decide on the more significant issue at any given time. They want lobbying money or quick results to make them look good for the next election. The affordable housing issue has become so larger that lawmakers are forced to act fast.

    Who will be responsible for housing all the people that have become victims of the prison industrial complex? How will we discern between the individual who took a plea at age 18 because proving their innocence would have kept them in jail for decades?

    What about the nurse who killed her abusive husband in self-defense? Today, DA Alvin Bragg is seeking a dismissal. What about the Central Park Five?

    Can we trust landlords to make these distinctions?
  2. I honestly don’t think they should outlaw them, however I’m not sure if it actually matters. I worked in property management for 5 years and have run countless background checks and in NYC you see all kinds of things. Usually the property manager would step in to discuss with your leasing manager and possibly request more clarity on the matter from the prospective tenant if it raises red flags. But I have never seen anyone denied because of it alone, usually felons have a hard time finding high enough paying jobs so they are not necessarily moving into Soho, Williamsburg or any other well to do neighborhood. I have heard of more denials for tenant landlord court or for having a program voucher (not section 8) which is what they really need to look at. Also how can current tenants know their neighbors business? It’s not broadcasted on WHO did what.
  3. Most landlords do not run criminal background checks. However, I do not think they should be prevented. Under the Fair Housing Act a landlord must consider a applicant with a criminal history on a case by case basis taking into consideration a number of factors. I believe if weighed fairly this is appropriate. I don’t believe that tenants have a right to know all their neighbors business.

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