Can a Criminal Background Stop You From Getting an Apartment?

Can a Criminal Background Stop You From Getting an Apartment?

Young indiscretions, lapses in judgment or terrible decisions may come back to bite you in the future. A criminal background influences your life in many aspects, including the capability to acquire an apartment lease. Landlords use background checks to screen potential renters and criminal convictions are frequently a disqualifier for a good apartment. Whether the landlord chooses to approve or deny is frequently depending on the kind of crime committed.

Tenant Screening Services

Most landlords use a tenant screening service to pull the background info and credit report of possible tenants. He typically charges a fee to cover the cost of this report. Tenant screening reports reveal your criminal background, eviction records, credit history and past addresses. Your neighbor may contact your past landlords as well as your individual references before approving your application. All of this info is taken in by the landlord to find out whether you are suited to rent out his real estate for the duration of the rental.

Right of Refusal

As a private citizen and company, your potential landlord can deny your program based on your criminal background, bad credit, bad references or public record details. Any or all this info could potentially keep you from receiving the apartment. The landlord has the ultimate discretion to whether to enter into the lease agreement with a possible tenant depending on the tenant’s history along with the likelihood of risk. Many times, corporate-owned properties have business rules on tenant leases. You might get a better chance at an individually owned property that could exercise flexibility.

Unlawful Discrimination

The landlord cannot refuse to enter into a rental contract because he doesn’t like the shape of your nose, the colour of the skin or disagrees with your religion. Unlawful discrimination covers race, religion, gender, colour, disability, sexual orientation along with healthcare conditions to mention a few. The Fair Employment and Housing Act outlines the complete list of scenarios which are considered unlawful discrimination. If you feel you are being discriminated against, you may file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.


Be upfront with your potential landlord before your fill out the program. Landlords frequently charge a program fee to purchase your tenant screening reports and possibly a holding deposit to save the unit while your program is processing. You might save yourself these fees by talking to the landlord about your past and determining whether your criminal background is an automatic disqualifier for the unit.

See related