Landlords Face Pressure on Criminal Background Checks

Technology makes it possible for apartment owners to perform fast, cheap checks on prospective renters

News Story (NATIONAL)

Laura Kusisto
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
April 4, 2016

Tags: Criminal Records, Housing: Discrimination, Housing: Landlord-Tenant

Organizations mentioned/involved: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (DC)


As apartment vacancy rates have dropped to their lowest point in more than a decade, it has become easier for landlords to impose stricter standards for applicants.

In some cases, however, legal aid lawyers say clients are being disqualified for minor infractions committed years or even decades earlier.

“It used to be that if somebody was a smaller landlord they would never check for a criminal background because it’s hard,” said JoAnne Page, president of the Fortune Society, a New York nonprofit that helps people released from prison reintegrate into society. “But now it’s so easy. Essentially people just keep getting punished, for life.”