Recently, The California State Legislature introduced a new bill which sought to amend §12955 of the Government Code, to include a criminal record as a basis upon which housing discrimination is prohibited. In what should be viewed as a big win for the rental industry the bill AB396, which sought to add restrictions to the use of criminal records in the rental decision, has been officially shelved for the remainder of the year.

The initial purpose of the bill would have granted previously convicted felons “protected class status” alongside classifications such as ethnicity and gender.  The current version of the bill that has been placed on hold would limit when a landlord may inquire about a prospective tenant’s criminal records during the initial application process, and only reference that information once they have made a conditional decision about renting.  Additionally, the applicant would be able to dispute the criminal record and require the property be placed on hold for a period of time while additional research is conducted.

Thanks to the involvement of the people, who voiced their passionate opinions in favor of  protecting properties and communities, the law remains unchanged. Under current California law, it is unlawful for a landlord, managing agent, real estate broker, or salesperson to deny a rental unit, discriminate or harass a person because of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to them, as well as gender and perception of gender), sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, or disability.

Background checks are used to provide an objective look into the character of an applicant and how their past transgressions may factor into their future actions. A criminal background check identifies whether or not an individual displays patterns of behavior that potentially put a company, individual or community at risk by renting a property to the applicant.

AB 396 would have negated the type of information that is invaluable to the rental industry regarding applicants who pose a potential risk. Thank you for fighting to protect the renters of California, and the assets of rental managers throughout the state.

There is still a good possibility that this bill may try to resurface in 2016 when it is eligible for review so be sure to subscribe to the blog to remain updated!

About the Author

Ryan Green headshotRyan Green has been working within the real estate and property management industries since 2005, and presently serves as the Marketing Manager for CIC. He holds a degree in Business Administration as well as FCRA and Experian certifications. When not passionately educating the industry about tips and trends he enjoys traveling, and visiting craft breweries.

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