California Landlords Settle Over ‘No Criminal Record’ And Discrimination

California landlords have reached a settlement and agreed to pay $8,000 after a complaint alleging they used a policy of “no criminal or police record of any kind,” and in addition discriminated on the basis of race and national origin.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged in the conciliation agreement that the landlords discriminated on the basis of race, national origin and prior criminal history, according to a release. The agreement names the Grand Oaks Apartments and Sierra Vista Apartments in Atwood, California, and MacBeth Apartment Systems in Carlsbad, California.

“Denying someone an apartment because of how they look or where they come from not only deprives them of a home, it is against the law,” Anna María Farías, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in the release. The “agreement reaffirms HUD’s commitment to ensuring that every person, no matter their race or national origin, has access to the housing of their choice.”

The agreement is the result of two complaints the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County (FHCRC) filed with HUD after it conducted fair housing tests.  The complaints alleged that the owners and managers of Sierra Vista and Grand Oaks Apartments discriminated against applicants because of their race and national origin. According to the complaints, tests conducted by FHCRC allegedly showed that property managers at the two complexes refused to rent, cited different terms and conditions, and misrepresented the availability of units to testers based on their race and national origin.

California landlords to pay $8,000 in settlement

Under the terms of the agreement, the owners and property managers will pay FHCRC $8,000, require that their employees take fair housing training, amend their rental qualification criteria to remove the requirement that applicants have “No Criminal or Police Record of Any Kind,” and develop and implement a nondiscriminatory criminal record policy.

The agreement also says MacBeth Apartment Systems must delete from their qualifying criteria “no criminal or police record of any kind” and provide HUD a copy of the revisions. Also “develop a criminal records policy that complies with the Fair Housing Act to be used in evaluating potential applicants at all properties,” according to the settlement. It also requires the company to distribute the new policy to all company executives and staff responsible for screening applicants and tenants.


Application Of Fair Housing Standards To the Use Of Criminal Records

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Conciliation Agreement