2022Criminal Records

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On February 17, 2022, California Assembly Bill 2383 was introduced to make it a discriminatory housing practice for the owner of rental housing to inquire about – or require an applicant for rental housing to disclose – a criminal record during the initial application assessment phase unless required by state or federal law.

Introduced by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (59th District), AB 2383 would permit an owner to request a criminal background check of the applicant and consider an applicant’s criminal record in deciding whether to rent or lease to the applicant after the successful completion of the initial application assessment.

This bill would require an owner who is considering denying an application based on the criminal background check to – within five days of receiving the information that is the basis of the denial – provide the applicant with a written statement listing the reasons for denial and conviction information before making a decision.

If the applicant provides the owner evidence demonstrating the inaccuracy of the applicant’s criminal record or evidence of rehabilitation, the bill would require the owner to reconsider their decision and would require the owner to provide written notification of the owner’s final decision to deny the application.

This bill would prohibit the owner in a rental application from seeking, considering, using, or taking an adverse action based in whole or in part on specified information or occurrences, including arrests that did not result in conviction, convictions that have been voided, and juvenile justice determinations.

The bill would also require an owner to provide an applicant notice in the application and before requesting a criminal background check, and would provide that its provisions do not apply if the rental housing accommodation is a dwelling in which the owner occupies a unit or bedroom as a principal residence.

In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits housing discrimination with respect to race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, veteran or military status, or genetic information.

Existing law provides that, in connection with specified unlawful practices related to housing discrimination, proof of a violation causing a discriminatory effect is shown if an act or failure to act has the effect, regardless of intent, of unlawfully discriminating on the basis of any of the personal characteristics described above.

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