The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Act provides protections for renters and homebuyers against discrimination. The goal is to ensure housing is available to all regardless of their race, religion, gender or other protected status.
As a rule, the Fair Housing Act does not offer protection based on the status of your criminal record. However, HUD does offer guidelines for landlords and sellers that do include some advice for dealing with those who have criminal records.
Guidelines are not laws
It is important to keep in mind that guidelines are not laws. They are recommendations or advice and not something that legally binds landlords and sellers. Still, HUD provides guidelines to help landlords avoid potential legal issues when denying housing to those with a felony record.
HUD’s suggestions are similar to the Fair Housing Act
The guidelines suggest that landlords follow similar rules to those outlined in the Fair Housing Act. They should not practice blanket bans that state they will not rent or sell to felons with no exceptions. They should take each situation on a case-by-case basis to ensure fairness.
HUD also advises that landlords and sellers should only look at convictions and not arrests or accusations that never ended with a court finding of guilt. This provides the innocent until proven guilty mindset and does not punish people for something they may not have done.
While the Fair Housing Act does not offer protection if you have a felony conviction, HUD does provide some help through guidelines to landlords and sellers that may help you to find it easier to get into a home or apartment.