Can a landlord legally use my arrest records to deny my rental application? 9 Answers as of April 01, 2013

About 12 years ago, I was accused of a crime I did not commit. This resulted in an arrest but no conviction. I was released the next day and the case was dismissed. I was only 18 years old at the time and I am now 30. I have a wife and a child on the way and we are looking to move to another state. About 3 years ago my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, and I applied for an apartment but was denied due to my background check. I can't allow my past to affect my family's future anymore than it already has. Please Help!

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
David M. Axinn, Attorney at Law
David M. Axinn, Attorney at Law | David Axinn
Most background checks ask only about convictions. Because this type of thing can come back to haunt you, you might want to look into having the arrest record expunged. This would require a petition filed in the county court where the incident happened.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 4/1/2013
Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
You should apply to have your records sealed and expunged.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 4/1/2013
Norm R Perry. Attorney at Law | Norm R Perry
Unless this is a type of government subsidized housing, the general rule would be yes. It is not considered discrimination under the law to look at a potential tenant's criminal record, credit record or anything else unless the area is defined as a protected area such as race. As one o our judges often said, "Actions have consequences." and in you case it is actions in the distant past. I do believe you will find landlords who may be more lenient.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 4/1/2013
Harper Law Offices, Inc. P.S.
Harper Law Offices, Inc. P.S. | Joseph T. G. Harper
A landlord can use any commercially reasonable criteria to screen you, and can deny you for any reason as well, so long as you are not denied tenancy for a prohibited reason, such as family status, race, age, and in some cities, sexual orientation, not can similarly situated people be treated differently. If this landlord does not allow any criminal history, regardless of conviction, and has denied every other applicant for the same reason, it would be permissible. If you are not allowed, but someone else is, that would likely be an act of discrimination. Given the amount of time, however, it is not likely your past history would even show up. Criminal matters normally do not show up on screening results beyond 7 to 8 years. If you think you have been the victim of a discriminatory practice, you should contact an attorney or your local human rights commission/fair housing office.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 4/1/2013
Law Offices of Mark West
Law Offices of Mark West | Mark West
I am not a criminal attorney but I know there are some records which can be expunged (in California). You should search the Penal Code to find out which records can actually be expunged.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/1/2013
    S. Joseph Schramm | Joseph Schramm
    A potential landlord can deny your rent application for any reason that is not based on race, religion, ethnicity or gender. This would unfortunately include a past arrest record. You have to be ready to explain the situation if it again becomes an issue and hope that the potential landlord will not hold it against you.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 4/1/2013
    Deborah G. Roher, Attorney at Law
    Deborah G. Roher, Attorney at Law | Deborah G. Roher
    A landlord can generally use any information in his possession to decide whether to rent to a prospective tenant (provided he does not engage in discrimination on the basis of some prohibited characteristic). There is considerable variance from state to state about what information landlords can obtain. For these reasons, you might want to consult a lawyer to explore sealing your criminal record before you relocate. A sealed record would generally not be made available to prospective landlords or most employers.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/31/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    Yes a landlord can, but they are supposed to give you the opportunity to explain. It may be that most landlords won't bother going back that far. All you can do is ask. You might tell the landlord up front what happened so that they don't think you are hiding something.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 3/31/2013
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    If you are in New Jersey, call me and I will assist. You may want to get your record 'expunged'.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 3/31/2013
Click to View More Answers: