The Paletz Law Blog

There Could be a Convicted Criminal Renting Your Property and Some in Lansing Think That’s Okay

November 7th, 2023 | By: Matthew I. Paletz, Esq.

Over the past few years, there’s been a movement to gut the criteria that a landlord relies on to screen a potential tenant. Criminal background checks for years have been a staple used by property owners as a reliable and necessary tool in the tenant screening process. But some housing advocates are even suggesting eliminating the practice altogether.

Now, there’s the MI Fair Chance Access to Housing Act.  – If passed, it would severely limit if not outright prohibit, any Michigan landlord’s use of criminal background checks for someone applying to rent.

As you might expect, as a fierce advocate for private property rights, I’ve got some BIG problems with this proposed legislation. And not just from a landlord’s perspective but from a tenant’s as well.

First and foremost – it’s not unreasonable to suggest that someone with a criminal record is more likely to re-offend. This is a risk that a landlord should not be expected to take, given the potential liability they could face if a subsequent crime is committed on their property.

And from a tenant standpoint – shouldn’t a renter have the right not to live next to a potentially dangerous criminal?  We’re talking about single mothers, children, and the elderly… what about their right to expect a safe place to live? What do we say to them when the unscreened neighbor reoffends?

Under the proposed legislation, it is being suggested that you can’t even ask about a conviction, yet if it does come up, why should this now fall on to the landlord to determine the tenant’s level of rehabilitation?

Also, the data on disparate impact in this situation is mostly anecdotal. This is all part of a very slippery slope with an even bigger goal, which is to prevent even a credit check on a prospective tenant and for some in Lansing to continue the assault on private property rights altogether.

The Bottom Line: You can always plan on Paletz Law being diligent in letting people know how landlords and property owners feel about these potential changes while making you aware of how this type of policy and how it will affect the way you do business.

The information contained in this article is only meant to be a basic overview and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without the advice of an attorney. The contents are intended for general information purposes only and may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or otherwise be disseminated without the prior written consent of Paletz Law.

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