In accordance with New Jersey S.B 250 / A.B. 1919 legislation, lessors are restricted from requiring an applicant to complete any rental application that includes any inquiries regarding the applicant’s criminal records prior to the provision of a conditional offer. Before accepting any application fee, the bill requires a lessor to disclose whether or not the eligibility criteria includes the review and consideration of criminal history. They must also supply the applicant with a statement that the applicant may provide evidence demonstrating inaccuracies within a criminal record or evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors.
After the issuance of a conditional offer to an applicant, a housing provider may only consider a criminal record in the applicant’s history that:
(1) has occurred within the 10 years immediately preceding the issuance of the conditional offer; and
(2) consists of a pending criminal accusation or a criminal conviction that, pursuant to subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:52-2, is not eligible for expungement.
1. Pre-qualification (income, credit check, landlord verifications) with issuance of a conditional offer
2. Criminal background check review
We’ve been working on improvements to Rent Application to help you comply with this two-step process.
After an applicant submits an application to a New Jersey-based address, we’ll process the screening reports as usual, but we won’t display the criminal report until you explicitly acknowledge that the applicant is pre-qualified for tenancy.
Once you've clicked the button to confirm that the applicant pre-qualifies for tenancy, we'll send an email to the applicant, satisfying this requirement.
Once the box has been checked and the email sent, the criminal report is revealed to view. In the top left corner, you’ll see the email address of the user who pre-qualified the applicant, as well as the date the applicant was pre-qualified for your records.
Per the New Jersey Fair Chance in Housing Act, you may only consider convictions for certain very serious crimes: murder, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, arson, human trafficking, certain other sexual assault violations (i.e., those in violation of N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-1), causing a child to engage in certain sexual acts (i.e., those in violation of N.J.S.A. § 2C:24-4(b)(3)); or any crime that resulted in a lifetime registration on a State sex offender registry;
indictable offenses of the first degree that were either issued in the past six (6) years, or that resulted in a conviction that concluded within the past six (6) years;
indictable offenses of the second or third degrees that were either issued in the past four (4) years, or that resulted in a conviction that concluded within the past four (4) years;
indictable offenses of the fourth degree that were either issued in the past one (1) year, or that resulted in a conviction that concluded within the past one (1) year.
Because it will be illegal to reject an applicant based on their criminal history before pre-qualifying them, we encourage you to review your application forms and remove any questions that inquire about criminal history.
This legislation also states that the lessor disclose whether or not the eligibility criteria includes the review and consideration of criminal history. They must also supply the applicant with a statement that the applicant may provide evidence demonstrating inaccuracies within a criminal record or evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors.
You can add any additional language you see as necessary to your form. It's easy to add an additional Text field using our drag-and-drop editing tools.
If you need a quick refresher on how to do this, check out this article
Review the full legislation here: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bill-search/2018/A5711/bill-text?f=A9999&n=5711_I1https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp
Please note that the information contained in this article is not legal advice. We recommend that you review the legislation and confer with your counsel to review the legislation and to develop a strategy in the best interest of your operations.
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