NYC Considers Prohibiting Criminal Background Checks on Prospective Tenants

Criminal Background Check

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Legislation being considered by the New York City Council called the Fair Chance for Housing Act (Int. No. 2047) would prohibit landlords and brokers from conducting criminal background checks on prospective tenants in an effort to remove a barrier to housing for ex-offenders who have criminal records and their families.

New York City previously passed a “Ban the Box” law called 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 written information about the criminal record inquiry.

The Fair Chance for Housing Act goes further than New York City’s employment law by completely prohibiting criminal background checks, except for landlords renting a room in a home they share. The Act is modeled after similar laws in the United States that include the Fair Chance in Housing Act (A1919) in New Jersey.

Second chance programs and Ban the Box laws that help ex-offenders with a prior criminal record find housing and work will continue to evolve, according to the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2021 compiled by Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a leading global provider of background checks.

Attorney Lester Rosen, ESR founder and chief executive officer (CEO), wrote the article “Starting a First Chance Movement is Critical to the Success of the Second Chance Movement” about how a First Chance movement should impact factors that lead a person to the criminal justice system and incarceration in the first place.

“Rather than ask employers to bear the brunt of the burden to provide employment opportunities for former offenders, the entire country should focus on providing a means to deflect people away from the criminal justice system in the first place,” wrote Rosen, the author of “The Safe Hiring Manual,” a guide to background checks.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – which was named the #1 screening firm in 2020 by HRO Today – offers a white paper on “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce,” an “ESR Ban the Box Resource Guide,” and a Ban the Box Resource Page. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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