Landlords Beware About Criminal Screening of Prospective Tenants

HNWReal Estate, Landlord/Tenant, and Zoning

criminal background checkThe Division of Civil Rights promulgated their final regulations today concerning the implementation of this new Criminal Background Check (“CBC”) screening law.

I have previously communicated to you the fact that the statute requires that any Housing Provider who continues to use CBC’s as part of its new tenant screening process must supply the applicant with written notification of its intention to do so. I also advised that the law requires that the NJ Division of Civil Rights draft that notification. I had it available in late December and I circulated it to many of my clients. I opined that you could either take the language of it, verbatim (with the exception of editing it to include the name of your company), and insert it into your written screening protocol, or use it as a separate document. In its final regulations the Division of Civil Rights is now requiring that it be used as a standalone document, in at least size 12 font, and include an acknowledgment that the applicant has received the notice.

The following are substantive additions to the law found in these new regulations (which, otherwise simply regurgitate the statutory provisions).

“[The Act limits the type of criminal records you are allowed to consider] Specifically, if a housing provider receives a criminal history inquiry conducted by a vendor or outside person or entity that is conducted in violation of the Act or this chapter, in that it reveals a record that is not permitted to be considered under the Act, the housing provider must show that the provider did not rely on that information in making a determination about an applicant’s tenancy.”

“The Model Notice of Withdrawal made available by the Division on its website must be a standalone document, written in at least size 12 font, and must include an acknowledgment that the applicant has received the notice, whether physically or electronically. This form shall be made available in English, Spanish, and in any other language the Director deems appropriate.”

“A landlord who relies on an inaccurate criminal record will be liable pursuant to the Act if the applicant provides evidence that the criminal record is inaccurate and the housing provider fails to confirm the accuracy of the information before continuing to rely upon it.”

If you are looking for additional details on this topic or if you require advice about your situation, please contact Christopher J. Hanlon, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at Please ask us about our video conferencing or telephone consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

Written By Christopher J. Hanlon, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County, NJ Landlord Tenant Attorney

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