Introduction: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plays a critical role in ensuring fair housing practices across the United States. Recently, HUD released updated guidance on tenant screening under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This guidance is crucial for landlords, property managers, and tenants alike, as it outlines the legal boundaries and best practices for tenant screening to prevent discrimination and promote fair housing opportunities.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the key points of the most recent HUD Fair Housing Act Tenant Screening Guidance, summarizing its implications and providing insights into how it impacts various stakeholders.

Understanding the Fair Housing Act: The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. HUD’s guidance on tenant screening aims to ensure that landlords and property managers adhere to these principles while screening prospective tenants.

Key Points of the HUD Fair Housing Act Tenant Screening Guidance:

  1. Disparate Impact: The guidance reaffirms that policies or practices that have a disparate impact on protected classes are prohibited, even if those policies are neutral on their face. Landlords must ensure that their screening criteria do not disproportionately disadvantage certain groups.
  2. Use of Criminal Records: While landlords are allowed to consider criminal history in tenant screening, blanket bans on individuals with criminal records may have a disparate impact. HUD advises landlords to consider the nature and severity of the offense, the time elapsed since the conviction, and evidence of rehabilitation when making screening decisions.
  3. Use of Eviction Records: Similarly, while eviction records can be considered, landlords must assess them carefully. Blanket bans on individuals with eviction records may also have a disparate impact, especially considering the circumstances surrounding the eviction and whether the individual has since established stable housing.
  4. Reasonable Accommodations: Landlords are reminded of their obligation to provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities during the screening process. This may include exceptions to certain criteria or the provision of additional time or assistance for applicants with disabilities.
  5. Applicant Documentation: HUD emphasizes the importance of providing applicants with clear and specific reasons if they are denied housing based on screening criteria. Applicants should also be given an opportunity to provide additional information or documentation related to their application.


Implications for Stakeholders:

  • Landlords and Property Managers: It is essential for landlords and property managers to review their screening policies and criteria in light of the new guidance to ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act. This may involve revising screening criteria, providing training to staff, and documenting the rationale behind screening decisions.
  • Tenants: Prospective tenants should be aware of their rights under the Fair Housing Act.


Conclusion: If you are looking for guidance on HUD’s recent guidance on tenant screening under the Fair Housing Act, please contact JB Screening Partners, Inc., we are here to help you.