Currently, a convicted criminal is not a stated fair housing protected class.
However, some fair housing advocates sometimes argue that criminal convictions do have a negative fair housing disparate impact on certain sex, race, color, and/or national origin rental applicants based on statistics from the criminal justice system.
Due to these fair housing considerations regarding disparate impact related to a criminal convictions record resulting in an automatic denial of rental property/application (e.g., sex, race, color, national origin), it is suggested that if a rental application asks the applying potential tenant about any criminal convictions, the landlord or their property managing agent should ask additional "follow up" questions about the criminal convictions (e.g., see below suggestions, asked/answered on the rental application, other documented ask/answered communications, fair housing risk management). Then, the landlord or their property managing agent should consider the totality of the circumstances before approving or denying the rental application.
These issues do not attach if the rental application does not ask about criminal convictions.
This follow up questioning application procedure and evaluation in some sense recognizes the reality that some individuals who have "served their time" will need some form of housing. So, a long past conviction for a lesser crime by an applicant who has exhibited rehabilitation into society may deserve consideration for approval/denial rather than an automatic denial.
In determining whether a rental applicant with a criminal conviction should be denied a rental, the landlord or their property managing agent may consider that the applicant would pose a threat to safety or good order or property or others.
The landlord or their property managing agent may make a determination perhaps based upon the following factors, or other factors, asked/answered about the criminal conviction:
(a) the nature and severity of the crime for which the applicant was convicted;
(b) the length of time since the conviction;
(c) the direct relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity, and fitness required to perform the duties of a tenant;
(d) any character references;
(e) an explanation of the issues;
(f) evidence of rehabilitation or treatment undertaken by the applicant that may mitigate the relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity, and fitness required to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of a tenant; and
(g) any combination of the relevant factors including those identified above that the landlord or their property managing agent determines is necessary considering the totality of the circumstances.