Criminal record puts squeeze on renters

Landlords must weigh convictions against tenant safety

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Q: After consulting your book, "Property Management for Dummies," and speaking with an attorney, I found a discrepancy in opinion involving tenant applicants with criminal records. Your book said that I can deny a rental application submitted by a convicted criminal in order to protect my current tenants from having their items stolen. However, the attorney I spoke with said a landlord can deny an application only if it’s based on bad credit and income history, even if the applicant has a considerable criminal history and is currently on probation for stealing and drugs. Has the law changed in the past few years?

A: I think I can clear up what you see as a potential discrepancy. As is so often the case with tenant-landlord legal issues, there are subtle interpretation differences, and slightly different facts can change the answer. While I’m not an attorney, as a property manager for more than 30 years I believe I see what the attorney is suggesting and why.