The Fair Housing Act does not specifically deny a landlord the right to reject an applicant based on a prior conviction or criminal background.
However, property managers are increasingly getting sued for refusing to rent to ex-convicts. In Florida, 48 property managers have been sued by one law firm alone this year for refusing to rent to those with a past criminal conviction.
Juana Watkins, vice president of law and policy and general counsel for Florida REALTORS®, says, “Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if a rental policy purposely discriminates or not,” she says. “With HUD’s recommendations in hand, a law firm can file a lawsuit. And even if a property management company has done nothing wrong, it’s always expensive for a brokerage to defend itself in court.”