Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
NJ landlords soon won't be able to automatically deny potential renters with criminal records
top story

NJ landlords soon won't be able to automatically deny potential renters with criminal records

  • 0
Carousel New Jersey news icon.jpg

Help for landlords during the coronavirus crisis is coming to an end but so many people fear they will now struggle to pay rent.

New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday voted to limit landlords’ use of criminal background checks, making the Garden State Legislature the first to approve statewide legislation to prevent property owners from automatically rejecting potential tenants with criminal records.

Arrests, convictions and incarceration, which disproportionately touch the lives of Black and Hispanic people in the United States, can prevent renters from finding housing years or decades later. Cities such as Newark, Seattle and Washington have laws similar to the one New Jersey passed.

The legislation now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy, who has said he will sign it.

The measure would prevent landlords from considering most types of criminal histories until after they make a conditional offer of housing. One exception is lifelong inclusion on a sex-offender registry. Landlords won’t be able to consider sealed or expunged records, juvenile records or charges that did not result in conviction.

Support Local Journalism

Your subscription makes our reporting possible.

After making a conditional offer, property owners can consider certain convictions for crimes such as murder, aggravated sexual assault and arson. The severity of other crimes determines how far back a landlord can look. If landlords rescind an offer after seeing someone’s criminal record, they need to justify that choice.

“This measure will allow those who have paid their debt to society to move forward with their lives in a productive manner,” state Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement. “Ultimately, having a place to call home provides ex-offenders with a stabilizing platform where they can get back on their feet, maintain employment, avoid homelessness and recidivism, and reconnect with their families.”

The Fair Chance in Housing Act is a housing version of “ban the box” rules that keep employers from automatically dismissing a job candidate because of criminal history.

The New Jersey Apartment Association was neutral on the bills, but President David Brogan said the association believes in second chances. He said recidivism rates will only drop if government gives people with criminal records tools such as job training, financial resources and proper identification that they need to succeed.

The law won’t apply to owner-occupied properties with a few units.

Get Government & Politics updates in your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

TOMS RIVER - Mitchell Larsen wanted to get a COVID-19 vaccine to prepare for his upcoming summer of lifeguarding. Larsen, 22, of Lacey, wasn't expecting to also get elbow bumps from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy as he got his first shot of the Moderna vaccine in his arm at the Perlmutter ShopRite on Fischer Boulevard. "I wanted that extra bit of safety" should he have to rescue someone this ...

ASBURY PARK - Voters rejected a ballot measure that would have given the city a stricter set of rent protections for tenants. The outcome, however, still means Asbury Park renters will have some form of protections coming to them by summer. The unofficial results show the stricter rent control ordinance, which made its way onto the ballot through a petition effort by a group of community ...

The best local coverage, unlimited

Sign up for a digital subscription to The Press of Atlantic City now and take advantage of a great offer.


Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News