WRITTEN BY HBA AND AAM CEO, FORREST M. WALL, CAE
Restrictions on Criminal Background Screening Proposed
Legislation which would drastically change the resident screening process and restrict the use of criminal background screening in that process was proposed before a subcommittee in the Michigan House of Representatives. House Bill 4878, which is sponsored by Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) would essentially ban the denial of a prospective resident based on criminal record except in a few specific situations. The bill proposes the following process for all rental property owners to follow:
- Accept an application and perform normal screening with the exception of criminal background screening.
- If the prospective resident meets the criteria for residency, the property owner issues a conditional offer of tenancy.
- Once the conditional offer is issued, the property owner may run a criminal background check, but may only consider denial if the applicant has been convicted of criminal sexual conduct (and is registered as a sex offender), arson, human trafficking, or any felony adjudicated in the last 365 days.
- If the property owner withdraws the conditional offer based on the above, the owner must notify the prospective resident in writing and undertake an individualized assessment to allow the prospective resident to submit evidence of rehabilitation, references, etc.
- If, after the assessment, the property owner confirms withdrawal of the offer, any application fee or deposit must be refunded within 24 hours along with a written notice of adverse action with instructions on how the applicant can file a complaint with the Attorney General.
- The applicant then has 14 days to request copies of all documents the property owner relied upon to make the decision.
The legislation outlines enforcement of the act under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act via the Attorney General. The Attorney General would also create a summary of applicant rights under the act and a list of applicant legal resources. Those documents would be required to be attached to the rental application and lease agreement, as well as posted in a property common area.
Representative Aiyash testified in favor of the legislation before the House Economic Development and Small Business Housing Subcommittee on October 5. The Apartment Association of Michigan and other housing organizations have stated opposition to the bill.