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Landlord Sued After Refusing to Rent to Ex-Con

While landlords can choose whom to rent to as long as conditions are reasonable, they should be careful not to discriminate.

Just recently, a Chicago landlord got sued because he rejected an African-American man who was convicted of armed robbery 20 years ago. The man served 6 years in prison. Not just that, he also suffers from a disability. 

The potential tenant said in his complaint that he was open about his criminal history and that the rental property staff assured him that it wouldn’t be a problem. That’s because the tenant screening policy refuses to rent to tenants with criminal convictions within the last 25 years. But still, the tenant was rejected.

The checkbox option for “extenuating circumstances will not be considered,” unfortunately, was checked. That prevented the tenant from providing additional information about his previous conviction.  

In April 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that landlords who have blanket bans on renting to ex-cons are violating the Fair Housing Act and can face penalties.

Before excluding an ex-con, rental property owners must first consider factors such as the nature and severity of the crime. Most importantly, they should also consider a person’s ability to pay rent and be a good tenant.

A lot of former prisoners are coming back to the community to be productive members, and these blanket bans only deny them the opportunity.


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