SW Legal studies in Business

Landlord Need Not Rent to Tenant with Criminal History
Description

Court held that a prospective tenant, rejected because of a criminal record, has no cause of action under the Fair Housing Act to claim discrimination. The act does not protect those with criminal backgrounds, even if the individuals in question have other personal characteristics that are protected.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Disability Discrimination, Substance Abuse, Treatment, Criminal History

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

East Coast Solutions (ECS) is a non-profit company that provides substance abuse treatment and housing services to substance abusers. As part of this program, it helps to rent apartments for abusers. One was Evans, a single mother diagnosed with mental disabilities who is recovering from substance abuse and addiction. ESC wanted Evans to be in an apartment building it uses for some of its clients. Evans filled out an application. The landlord, UDR, refused to rent to Evans due to her criminal history. Evans and ESC sued UDR for violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for disability discrimination. The magistrate recommended summary judgment on behalf of UDR; plaintiffs objected.

Decision

Summary judgment for landlord. The requested accommodation for a mentally disabled prospective tenant who was denied an apartment is not an issue in the case. Evans was rejected because of her criminal background. The FHA does not provide protection for those with a criminal history. The landlord has no obligation to make an exception for Evans because she also is mentally disabled. Those are separate issues, and the landlord has the right to have a “no criminal history policy.”

Citation

Evans v. UDR Inc., ---F.Supp.2d--- (2009 WL 1026724, E.D., N.C., 2009)

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