As professional apartment owners and management companies, we want quality residents at our properties.  To help obtain the best residents, many management companies publish a non-discriminatory Resident Selection Criteria (RSC) to help ensure the rules are enforced across the board.  Included in the RSC (particularly at affordable communities) will be items such as credit and criminal background checks.

The criminal background checks have, at times, been challenged.  How far back can management look?  Doesn’t everyone deserve a second (or third) chance?  What if an offense happened ten years ago?
On the other hand, management must do our best to prevent crime and promote safety.  In fact, I argue that resident health and safety should be paramount as we engage in our housing operations.  In short, the requirement for a criminal background check was designed to keep out those who management believes are a threat to the health, safety, or peaceful enjoyment of our residents (including children) and guests as well as our leasing office staff members.  

So, how far back can management look?  Well, the regulations note a "reasonable time" for many offenses and just what is a reasonable time comes up periodically.  Some offenses can and should be permanently disqualifying.  While some groups have pushed HUD to develop guidelines for "reasonable time" — the government has declined to do so noting that HUD believed it would be too rigid for it to define a reasonable time period in a manner that covers every circumstance. The reasonable time period is still left up to the owner to determine in its admission policies.  HUD recognized that management may want to adopt standards that differentiate what is a reasonable period for different categories of criminal activity. 

While HUD considered that five years may be a reasonable period for certain offenses, some owners may not agree.  HUD permits management to make these decisions in the best interests of our communities. 

Just A Thought.