2022Criminal Records

Written By Digital Content Editor Thomas Ahearn

In August 2022, the New York City Council reintroduced the “Fair Chance for Housing Act” which would allow landlords to consider the criminal history of potential tenants who are listed on the sex offender registry but otherwise limit the use of background checks, according to a report from the New York Daily News.  

“Discriminating against our fellow New Yorkers for past convictions — after they serve their time — is an unfair lifelong punishment,” New York City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers, who reintroduced the bill, said in a rally at City Hall, the New York Daily News reported. “Housing is a fundamental right,” Powers added.

The bill would prohibit housing discrimination in rentals, sales, leases, subleases, or occupancy agreements in New York City on the basis of arrest record or criminal history. Landlords, owners, agents, employees, and real estate brokers would be prohibited from obtaining criminal record information at any stage in the process.

The New York Daily News reported that the anti-discrimination bill would help “an estimated one in 10 adult New Yorkers have a conviction history” find a place to live and that its potential passage would “come as a watershed moment for some 750,000 New York City residents with histories of convictions.”

However, a similar bill that would have banned most New York City landlords from considering criminal history in assessing tenants failed to pass in 2021 even after its success seemed secure because “opposition from landlords and residents proved powerful in preventing Council passage,” the New York Daily News reported.

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