One of the bills we are most concerned with this session is AB 396 (Jones-Sawyer) regarding criminal background checks for tenants. SDCAA is opposing the legislation, which as originally drafted, would have essentially added Criminal Background as a protected class. It has since been amended, however, the amendments are not any better. As drafted now, the bill would prohibit the owner of a rental housing accommodation from inquiring about a criminal record during the initial application assessment phase. After the initial application assessment, an owner could request a criminal background check. Before denying an applicant, an owner would be required to:
- Provide the prospective tenant with a written statement listing the reasons for possible denial
- Allow the prospective tenant 14 days to provide evidence that demonstrates the inaccuracy of the criminal report or evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors.
- Provide another written notification as to the final decision to deny the application.
SDCAA feels the amendments have made a bad bill even worse. Rental housing professionals should have the right to run criminal background checks, if part of their criteria, and use that information to protect other residents. Additionally, owners and managers are not criminal justice professionals and should not be tasked with weighing evidence regarding someone’s criminal past. Status: Passed out of Assembly Housing and Community Development committee and referred to the Committee on Appropriations.
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