NYC Council Set to Vote on Law Prohibiting inquiry on Criminal Records

The New York City Council appears set to vote on a bill next week which would prohibit housing providers or their agents from making inquiry or conducting research into a housing applicant’s criminal convictions, arrests or other similar record. The bill would apply to any owner or agent having a right to sell, rent or lease any housing accommodation or have the right to approval of a sale or lease of a housing accommodation. It would therefore apply to a Cooperative’s sale application and a Condominium application relating to the right of first refusal.

The City Council Bill Intro 2047-20, as currently proposed, allows for review of only the New York State sex offender registry but prohibits review of any registries outside New York State. There are also no exceptions for any other convictions including embezzlement, robbery, rape, murder or burglary.

As this bill is an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law, violation of the law (as with discrimination against any other protected class member) can have severe penalties including fines of up to $125,000 ($250,000 if willful or malicious), attorney’s fees awards and compensatory damages.

We strongly suggest if you are opposed to this measure that you immediately contact your city councilperson and voice your opinion on the bill. This message can be shared with the residents of your building who may have similar concerns. The Rent Stabilization Association has a site that allows you to send messages directly to the bill sponsor and your City Council representative. Please CLICK HERE to access that site and send your message.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.