On December 31st 2019, Cook County’s Just Housing Amendment went into effect. These laws, aimed to curb discrimination against renters with a criminal record, change what criminal histories can appear on rental applications. Cook County real estate agents must be knowledgable and prepared to keep themselves and their clients fully compliant. Here’s the information you need to know about the Just Housing Amendment, and how Apply Now by Rental Beast, the online application engine, can keep every rental transaction quick and fully compliant.
What is the Just Housing Amendment?:
The new Cook County laws will effect the following:
- The amount, and type of criminal history included in rental applications
- The procedure by which housing providers review criminal histories
- What steps an applicant can take if their application is rejected due to criminal history
What Will Now Be Included In Criminal Histories?
Criminal histories will now only include crimes the applicant was convicted of in the last three years.
The following cannot be considered and should no longer appear on any rental application:
- Any legal action without convictions—arrests, charges or citations
- Drug court, any juvenile arrest or conviction information, or any expunged and/or sealed convictions
- Any criminal conviction made over three years ago.
How Are Criminal Histories Reviewed Under the Just Housing Amendment?
If a person does have a criminal history that might warrant a denial of a rental unit, housing providers must conduct and document an Individualized Assessment.
An Individual Assessment is a full and holistic consideration of how the applicant’s criminal history might impact their performance as a tenant. Factors to consider during an Individualized Assessment are:
- Nature and severity of the conviction
- Nature of sentencing
- Number of convictions
- The length of time that has passed following the individuals most recent conviction
- Age of the individual at the time of the most recent conviction
- Evidence of rehabilitation
- The individual’s tenant history
What Steps Are Taken After An Individual Assessment?
A housing provider can still reject an applicant on the basis of a criminal history. However, they must give the applicant an explanation of their decision, and the applicant may dispute the rejection.
If the applicant chooses to dispute the decision, they have 5 business days to submit relevance evidence supporting their claim.
Stay legal and Compliant with Apply Now by Rental Beast
These laws change what information appears on a rental application, so Cook County agents must be careful to ensure that their clients’ applications only includes convictions made within the last three years.
Stay legal and compliant with Apply Now by Rental Beast. Completely online, Apply Now keeps you entirely compliant with Cook County’s new laws. The landlord, or designated reviewer, get fast, secure access to only the criminal history eligible for review under Cook County’s new laws.
RELATED: Why an MLS is Using Apply Now By Rental Beast
Want to use Apply Now for every rental listing? Agents can Rental Beast Lite account and have easy, unlimited access to Apply Now (with the permission of the property owner). Build with the agent in mind, Apply Now keeps you in the loop—0n your Rental Beast account, you can also see real-time updates of every active rental application.
To learn more about the Rental Beast platform or to request a no-obligation demo visit Rental Beast for Real Estate Agents.