Advocacy Update

Forrest Wall March 2021Written by HBA and AAM CEO, Forrest M. Wall, CAE

Legislation Introduced To Restrict Criminal History Disclosure

Legislation which would prohibit rental property owners from requiring certain disclosures from prospective residents has been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives. House Bill 6242 would create the Michigan Fair Chance Access to Housing Act. Under the proposal, a property owner is prohibited from the following:

  • Inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history or arrest record
  • Requiring disclosure of the applicant’s criminal history or arrest record
  • Requiring an applicant to authorize the release of their background
    check report
  •  Printing, circulating, posting or publishing of a statement/ad/notice
    sign which indicates an application will be denied solely or in part on
    an applicant’s criminal history or arrest record

The legislation exempts criminal history or arrest record disclosures required under federal or state law, as well as disclosure of registration as a sex offender. However, prior to inquiry/disclosure under this exemption the property owner must determine if the applicant is qualified to lease after review of the application, and, provide written notice to the applicant (which explains disclosures required, lists reasons the application may be denied, and allows a signed consent with certain options).

The proposed legislation provides for a complaint process under the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). The bill requires MDCR to investigate all complaints, but makes it optional for the department to send a copy of the complaint to the landlord and request the landlord to file a response. The department may also request relevant records or documents, and may conduct a hearing. After investigation of the complaint, the department may file for temporary relief against the property owner in district court. That temporary relief can include an order restraining the property owner from denying the application. Additionally, if the department finds the property owner violated the act, the department may impose civil fines and require payment of damages and costs, as well as “other relief the department considers appropriate.”

Finally, the legislation requires the department to create a form containing the following:

  • A summary of an applicant’s rights under the law
  • A list of legal resources available to an applicant

Once the form is created, property owners are required to attach it as an addendum to all lease agreements and rental applications. Property owners would also be required to post the form in a common area on the property.

The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Regulatory Reform for consideration.

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