Can You Deny A Tenant For Criminal History?

When it comes to renting out a property, landlords have the right to conduct background checks on potential tenants to ensure a safe and peaceful living environment.

One of the key aspects landlords consider during the screening process is the applicant’s criminal history. But, can you deny a tenant solely based on their criminal record?

Legal Considerations

Landlords need to be mindful of fair housing laws when it comes to denying a tenant due to their criminal history. While it is not illegal to reject a potential tenant because of a criminal record, it’s crucial to avoid discriminating against individuals based on protected characteristics.

Criminal history screening should be applied uniformly to all applicants and should not unfairly target specific groups. Landlords must also consider the nature and severity of the criminal offenses when making their decision.

Types of Crimes

Landlords may consider the types of crimes committed by an applicant when evaluating their suitability as a tenant. Generally, crimes that pose a direct threat to the safety and well-being of other tenants or the property itself may be valid grounds for denial.

Permissible CrimesNon-Permissible Crimes
Non-violent offensesViolent crimes
Property crimesSexual offenses

Risk Assessment

Landlords can conduct a risk assessment based on the applicant’s criminal history to determine the potential risks associated with renting to that individual. Factors such as the recency of the offense, rehabilitation efforts, and behavior since the offense can be taken into account.

Disclosure and Communication

It is essential for landlords to communicate openly with potential tenants regarding their criminal history policy. Applicants should be given the opportunity to explain the circumstances of their past offenses and provide any relevant mitigating factors.

Clear communication can help both parties reach an understanding and make an informed decision regarding the tenancy.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Landlord Deny A Tenant For Criminal History?

Yes, a landlord can deny a tenant based on their criminal history, depending on the nature and severity of the offense.

What Factors Can A Landlord Consider When Denying A Tenant?

Landlords can consider factors such as the seriousness of the crime, the relevance of the offense to the rental property, and the time that has passed since the conviction.

Can A Landlord Deny A Tenant For Any Criminal Offense?

A landlord cannot deny a tenant for just any criminal offense. They should have reasonable grounds related to the safety and well-being of other tenants and property.

What Steps Can A Landlord Take To Deny A Tenant Based On Criminal History?

To deny a tenant based on criminal history, landlords should have a clear rental criteria policy and conduct a background check within the legal boundaries of fair housing laws.


While landlords have the right to consider a tenant’s criminal history during the screening process, it is essential to do so in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. By evaluating the nature of the offenses, conducting risk assessments, and maintaining open communication, landlords can make informed decisions that prioritize the safety and well-being of their rental properties.

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