Berkeley joins Oakland in a rather exclusive club by banning criminal background checks when screening tenants

Earlier, we covered Oakland’s ordinance prohibiting landlords from conducting criminal background checks on prospective tenants, and Berkeley has now followed suit. Landlords may not inquire about criminal history or conduct background checks when vetting tenants.

This topic has become not only a moral issue but a key homelessness issue, according to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, as stigmatized ex-offenders find it difficult to assimilate back into society and secure housing.

Bornstein Law has said in many venues that while we are all about second chances, we are also about making rental risks transparent. Technology cannot be used as a crutch, as many blemishes in the history of a rental applicant can be concealed because of laws and a culture of amnesty.

An inability to connect all the dots and peeling into criminal records makes personal sleuthing all it the more important, putting a finger on other considerations such as past rental history, employment, ironclad references, and the like.

From the blog: Criminal background checks in tenant screening ›

Video: Evaluating prospective tenants - some considerations ›

From the blog: 'Second chance' laws raise weighty moral and legal issues ›

Handling criminal activity in rental units ›