2021Criminal Records

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

An “11th-hour attempt” by the “lame duck” New York City (NYC) Council to pass a “controversial” bill, Proposed Int. No. 2047-A, that would prevent landlords from conducting criminal background checks on potential tenants has left landlord groups “in an uproar,” according to a news report from CBS Channel 2 in New York, New York.

CBS Channel 2’s Marcia Kramer reported that the bill “would affect an estimated 2.6 million tenants of coops, condos, and rent-stabilized buildings in the five boroughs” if passed, but also “would not affect the more than 500,000 people who live in 335 NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) developments.”

Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, the largest organization of apartment building owners, told CBS Channel 2 about crimes landlords would be unable to check for when renting apartments to prospective tenants if the bill passes. “Murder, assault, battery, drug dealing, gun running, sex crimes,” he said.

“Safe and stable housing is a right every New Yorker deserves, yet conviction records continue to be used to punish and discriminate against people long after they have left the criminal legal system,” New York City Councilman Stephen Levin (33rd District), who sponsored the bill, said in a statement to CBS Channel 2.

The bill does not prohibit inquiries into the New York sex offender registry but requires the landlord to provide the tenant written notice about the inquiry, and a reasonable amount of time, not more than three days, to withdraw the application. The bill also has a process for applicants to dispute an adverse action based on criminal history.

The ESR News Blog previously reported that New York City had also passed the Fair Chance Act (FCRA) that banned most employers from asking about criminal records or conviction history before making a conditional job offer, which they can rescind after providing the applicant with information about the criminal record inquiry.

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