Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transactions

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

(April 2016)
HUD Guidance cover image

According to this guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) Office of General Counsel, when individuals are released from prisons and jails, their ability to access safe, secure and affordable housing is critical to their successful reentry to society. However, many formerly incarcerated individuals, as well as individuals who were convicted but not incarcerated, "encounter significant barriers to securing housing, including public and other federally-subsidized housing."

The Fair Housing Act (PDF) prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings and in other housing-related activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin. HUD issued this guidance concerning how the Fair Housing Act applies to the use of criminal history by providers or operators of housing and real-estate related transactions. Specifically, this guidance addresses how the discriminatory effects and disparate treatment methods of proof apply in Fair Housing Act cases in which a housing provider justifies an adverse housing action – such as a refusal to rent or renew a lease – based on an individual’s criminal history.