Today's Law As Amended


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AB-53 Rental housing unlawful housing practices: applications: criminal records.(2019-2020)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 It is the intent of the Legislature to provide the formerly incarcerated an opportunity to receive a thorough and fair vetting when seeking housing. Nothing in this act is intended to compel, or otherwise require, a landlord or property owner to provide housing to any individual.

SEC. 2.

 Section 12955.05 is added to the Government Code, to read:

12955.05.
 (a) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Criminal record” means criminal offender record information, as defined in Section 13102 of the Penal Code.
(2) “Evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors” includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(A) A person’s satisfactory compliance with all terms and conditions of parole or probation, provided that the person’s inability to pay fines, fees, and restitution due to indigence shall not be considered noncompliance with terms and conditions of parole or probation.
(B) Employer recommendations, particularly related to a person’s postconviction employment.
(C) Educational attainment or vocational or professional training since conviction, including training received while incarcerated.
(D) Completion of or active participation in rehabilitative treatment, including alcohol or drug treatment.
(E) Letters of recommendation from community organizations, counselors, case managers, teachers, community leaders, parole officers, and probation officers who have observed the person since the person’s conviction.
(F) A person’s familial relationship with a person who may be currently residing in the housing accommodation.
(G) The age of the person at the time of the conviction.
(H) Explanation of precedent coercive conditions, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, untreated substance abuse, or mental illness that contributed to the conviction.
(3) “Initial application assessment phase” means the period before a decision is made to rent or lease a rental housing accommodation, which includes the time during which a person seeking a rental housing accommodation requests, and is provided with, an application and the time during which the assessment of rental history and credit history, the checking of sources of income, and the scheduling of an applicant interview routinely occur.
(b) (1) It is an unlawful housing practice for the owner of a rental housing accommodation to inquire about, or to require an applicant for a rental housing accommodation to disclose, a criminal record during the initial application assessment phase, unless otherwise required by state or federal law.
(2) Following the successful completion of the initial application assessment phase, an owner of a rental housing accommodation may request a criminal background check of the applicant and consider an applicant’s criminal record in deciding whether to rent or lease. If the owner of a rental housing accommodation is considering denying an application to rent or lease after requesting a criminal background check and considering an applicant’s criminal record, and the possible denial is based on the applicant’s criminal record, the owner shall, within five days of receiving the information that is the basis of the possible denial, provide the applicant with a written statement listing the reasons for the possible denial before making a final decision.
(3) If, within two days of receipt of the written statement described in paragraph (2), the applicant provides the owner of the rental housing accommodation notice orally, or in writing if requested by the owner of the rental housing accommodation, of evidence demonstrating the inaccuracy of the item or items within the applicant’s criminal record or evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors, the owner of the housing accommodation shall reconsider their decision in light of the information and delay the denial for no longer than five days after receipt of the information. If, upon review of the applicant’s criminal record and the evidence of rehabilitation and mitigating factors, the applicant still has an unacceptable criminal record, then the owner of the housing accommodation shall notify the applicant of the owner’s final decision to deny the application in writing.
(c) The owner of the housing accommodation shall not in an application for rental housing accommodations or as otherwise part of the application process require disclosure of, or, if such information is received, deny a dwelling based in whole or in part on the following:
(1) A previous arrest that did not result in a conviction.
(2) Participation in, or completion of, a diversion or a deferral of judgment program.
(3) A conviction that has been judicially dismissed, expunged, voided, invalidated, or otherwise rendered inoperative, including, but not limited to, as is provided under Section 1203.4, 1203.4a, or 1203.41 of the Penal Code.
(4) A determination or adjudication in the juvenile justice system or information regarding a matter considered in or processed through the juvenile justice system.
(5) Information pertaining to an offense other than a felony or misdemeanor.
(d) (1) An owner of a rental housing accommodation that uses criminal records as part of the screening criteria to evaluate an applicant shall include the following notice in the application for tenancy of a rental housing accommodation:
(2) “This property will conduct a criminal background check as the final part of the screening process. You are not required, and the owner of the property may not require you, to disclose a criminal record until your application has satisfied all of the property’s other screening criteria, unless otherwise required by state or federal law. If your application does not satisfy the property’s criteria with respect to criminal records, you will have two days after the possible denial to provide orally, or in writing if so requested by the owner of the property, evidence demonstrating the inaccuracy of the item or items within your criminal record that form the basis of the possible denial, or evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors.”

SEC. 3.

 Section 12955.8 of the Government Code is amended to read:

12955.8.
 For purposes of this article, in connection with unlawful practices:
(a) Proof of an intentional violation of this article includes, but is not limited to, an act or failure to act that is otherwise covered by this part, that demonstrates an intent to discriminate in any manner in violation of this part. A person intends to discriminate if race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, veteran or military status, or  or  genetic information is a motivating factor in committing a discriminatory housing practice even though other factors may have also motivated the practice. An intent to discriminate may be established by direct or circumstantial evidence.
(b) Proof of a violation causing a discriminatory effect is shown if an act or failure to act that is otherwise covered by this part, and that has the effect, regardless of intent, of unlawfully discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, veteran or military status, or  or  genetic information. A business establishment whose action or inaction has an unintended discriminatory effect shall not be considered to have committed an unlawful housing practice in violation of this part if the business establishment can establish that the action or inaction is necessary to the operation of the business  achieve one or more substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory business interests  and effectively carries out the significant business need interest  it is alleged to serve. In cases that do not involve a business establishment, the person whose action or inaction has an unintended discriminatory effect shall not be considered to have committed an unlawful housing practice in violation of this part if the person can establish that the action or inaction is necessary to achieve an important purpose sufficiently compelling to override the discriminatory effect and effectively carries out the purpose it is alleged to serve.
(1) Any determination of a violation pursuant to this subdivision shall consider whether or not there are feasible alternatives that would equally well or better accomplish the purpose advanced with a less discriminatory effect.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, the term “business establishment” shall have the same meaning as in Section 51 of the Civil Code.
(c) An owner of a rental housing accommodation who satisfies the requirements of Section 12955.05 shall not be in violation of that section with respect to the use of criminal records, as defined in Section 12955.05, in screening applicants for tenancy.