Am I Required to Disclose a Criminal Record on a Housing Application?
Life after a criminal conviction is not easy. Your criminal record makes it more difficult to gain employment, get into school, and may even make finding adequate housing difficult – even though housing is one of the most basic necessities for survival. Because of this risk, you may be tempted to hide the fact that you are a convicted criminal when filling out a housing application.
Disclosing Your Criminal History
Despite the fear your application will be denied, it is better that you disclose your criminal record than let a landlord discover it during a criminal background check without any explanation from you. Landlords can access the central repository via the Federal Department of Law Enforcement to search for any potential criminal history by name; therefore, even if you do not disclose it, they can still discover a criminal record.
By taking responsibility for your criminal past and being honest, you increase the likelihood that a landlord will approve you despite your history.
Applying for Public Housing
Federal and state public housing authorities cannot discriminate against race, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc. when choosing their housing applicants. They can, however, consider an individual’s criminal record when renting out public housing. They are also permitted under the law to consider new criminal convictions as grounds for eviction.
After incarceration, you will have four main options for long-term housing. If you do not qualify for any of these, you may want to consider short-term housing, such as a halfway house or staying with family until you can qualify.
- Rentals Offered by Management Companies – Management companies typically have policies against renting to those with criminal convictions or even arrest records. There may be exceptions to this policy if you have proof of a completed probation or proof your crime was not violent or drug-related.
- Rentals Offered by Smaller Private Landlords – You may have more opportunities with a small, private landlord because they can use their own discretion when selecting their tenants. You should explain your criminal history before they conduct a criminal background check to improve your credibility.
- Rentals Offered for Past Convicts – Local landlords may be part of a program that offers rental properties to convicted criminals. You often will need to enclose a letter explaining your crime and future goals, and the landlord will select based on preference.
- Rentals Offered by Public or Affordable Housing Programs –Affordable housing programs may deny applicants based on criminal background checks; however, you may be able to appeal the decision with the local housing authority.
A solution to having to disclose your criminal history is to have your criminal record expunged. The rules for expungement in Florida are strict and not all crimes or arrest records may qualify. However, if you successfully expunge your criminal record, a landlord will not find your criminal past on the central repository, and you are not required to disclose your past to them.
Get Answers to Your Legal Questions – Contact the Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong, P.A. Now
If you have questions regarding a conviction or you would like to learn more about expunging your criminal record, The Law Offices of Timothy Armstrong, P.A. can help. Call us at 904-356-8618 or complete an online contact form to get started.