Blog

 
     

New Jersey Town Tries and Fails to Mandate Background Checks for Tenants

By Michael Klazema on 6/27/2018

Who is the new neighbor that just moved in to the rental next door? That question was at the heart of one recent attempt in New Jersey to institute stricter rules about investigating tenants before offering them a lease. The proposed ordinance appeared in the township of Brick, New Jersey, a community of about 75,000 people. Faced with community concerns about criminal activity by rental tenants, the mayor proposed a new ordinance to the Township Council that would shift more of the burden to the landlords.

The regulation in question would have required all landlords within the township's borders to conduct background checks on any tenants over the age of 18. This would include all individuals living in the property, even if they are not officially on the lease. According to the mayor, this would be to avoid allowing someone with a clean record to obtain a lease and afterward bringing in someone else with a record. This builds on previous efforts within Brick to control the rental community. A prior ordinance paved the way for holding landlords responsible for any criminal actions undertaken by their tenants. 

The township would also gain the power to shut down rentals where landlords do not conduct the checks on all residents and submit proof of the completed report to the town government. The proposed rules made no mention of denying occupants based on the results of the criminal report, but the conversation surrounding the issue featured that notion as a heavy implication. In fact, the mayor's comments that the policy was intended to "keep bad renters out" would ultimately contribute to the demise of the policy proposal

The mandated screening would have required searching a number of records, including convictions from the New Jersey Superior Court, plus municipal court records from the renter's previous address. The same type of information is available through a state background check from backgroundchecks.com. However, during the public comment period before the township council, commissioners ultimately decided to table the ordinance due to mounting concerns it would trigger discriminatory actions. 

The local NAACP's chair for housing concerns, Michael McNeil, spoke to the potential chilling effect on tenants with evictions in their record, and Fred Rush, chapter president, called further attention to the mayor's comments. Both expressed concern that the policy would disproportionately impact minority tenants. Even landlords joined the chorus against the ordinance, pointing out that even a background check could not always guarantee freedom from issues with tenants. 

For now, Brick will not move forward with this ordinance; the lack of a requirement does not mean such checks are illegal, however. So long as landlords avoid making discriminatory decisions, background checks can still help to enable informed choices during the screening process. By understanding what you can learn from a background check and staying abreast of legal non-discrimination requirements, landlords can look for tenants who are the best fit for their property and neighborhood. backgroundchecks.com provides a number of products, such as our county-level criminal search, that can equip landlords with the information they require.


Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • July 17 — Hourly Employee Screening: What Makes It Unique and Important infographic?Modern employers conduct background checks on most of the people they hire. These checks are most often used to screen full-time salaried workers. Part-timers and hourly employees are typically less likely to face a thorough background check or even go through a background screening at all. According to a survey conducted by HR.com, 67 percent of employers screen all of their part-time employees, compared to 83 percent of their full-time employees.
  • July 17 A Kentucky school district recently decided to stop paying for volunteer background checks. Going forward, volunteers will be expected to cover the cost of their own checks, which is $10 per person.
  • July 12 Seeking fresh employees for businesses, some states seek to reduce the number of people denied employment based on old or nonviolent crimes.
  • July 11 Multinational aerospace company - Safran Group - trusts backgroundchecks.com to screen new hires, The products they manufacture can have major implications for aircraft safety and worldwide security. As such, the company needs to be extremely careful and deliberate about who it trusts to join the organization.
  • July 11 Recently cited for driving too fast? Here’s what a speeding ticket will do to your background check report.
  • July 10

    Could your business be vulnerable to employee theft? Protect yourself with more thorough background checks.


  • July 09 While Social Security Numbers aren’t required for criminal history checks, they can be beneficial. Here’s why.
  • July 05

    In June, Chicago Public Schools came under fire after a Chicago Tribune piece accused the district of not protecting students from sexual abusers. The district has announced plans to run background checks on all employees.


  • July 04 — How important are volunteer background checks? Do they even matter?
    Organizations that rely in part on volunteer labor consistently find themselves asking these questions. The assumption is usually that volunteer background checks are less important than background checks for full-time or part-time employees. According to a CareerBuilder survey from 2016, 72 percent of employers conduct background checks on all employees. A parallel statistic isn’t even available for volunteer checks. They are less common – and less valued.
  • July 03 #MeToo harassment allegations continue to reshape workplaces in every industry. As a result, many companies are looking to safeguard themselves from liability.