Finding housing with a criminal record can be a challenge. Many cities and municipalities in Utah, including Salt Lake City, have “Good Landlord Programs,” which give incentives to landlords who refuse to rent to people with criminal records. These programs can make it difficult for former felons to find a house or an apartment to rent. Even people with a record of DUI or misdemeanor offenses might have trouble finding housing – and federal housing discrimination laws might not protect them. Our Salt Lake City expungement lawyers at Overson Law explain how we can help get your criminal record cleared so you can find housing, and we discuss what housing restrictions for ex-convicts might make it harder to find an apartment in Salt Lake City.
Are Former Criminals Protected from Housing Discrimination in Salt Lake City?
Federal laws like the Fair Housing Act prevent discrimination in housing across the country. These laws and their state counterparts usually prevent discrimination against applicants based on their race, religion, sex, national origin, and other factors. Some states add additional categories of discrimination, but in Utah, you are not generally protected from discrimination based on your criminal record.
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 2016 issued statements indicating that discriminating against former criminals might run afoul of these rules, but not because it is illegal to deny housing to a former offender. Instead, since people of color are unfairly affected by criminal records, it might be racial discrimination to deny housing to a former convict – but these laws have not been enforced this way.
Instead, many towns and cities in Utah use “Good Landlord Programs” to give additional funding to landlords who unfairly deny former offenders housing. That means that a conviction for theft charges or assault might hurt your chances of getting housing, even if that has nothing to do with your ability to pay rent. These programs are aimed at reducing crime in communities, but they might have the opposite effect. People who leave jail without housing, without a job, and without support from their community are far more likely to recidivate (commit additional crimes) and find themselves back in jail.
While these laws are obviously discriminatory against people with a criminal record, this kind of discrimination is usually legal. Because of this, it is better to avoid having a criminal record at all – which our lawyers might be able to help with.
Can Landlords Run Background Checks in SLC?
As part of a general check on your finances and fitness as a tenant, a landlord will often run credit checks and background checks. Some landlords will not look for misdemeanor convictions, which means that mid-level crimes like drunk driving and harassment might not show up on their background check. However, felony offenses will usually appear, and a landlord might hold that against you when determining whether you’d be a “good” resident. Landlords also usually use background checks to flag drug crimes specifically, since they could cause legal problems for the property owner.
Expungement of Criminal Records in Salt Lake City
You might have a criminal record from something you did recently or something you did a decade ago. If a landlord is determined to deny you housing based on your record, it might not matter if you committed the crime 10 or 15 years ago; they might deny you anyway. Because of this, it might be incredibly important to get your record expunged so that your potential landlord won’t be able to find a criminal record that could hurt your chance of getting an apartment.
The best way to avoid having a criminal record is to get the charges dropped or dismissed at the beginning. If you are currently up on criminal charges in Salt Lake City or the surrounding areas, our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers might be able to get the charges dropped or dismissed and keep them off your criminal record. However, if it’s too late and you were already convicted of a crime in Utah, we might be able to get the record expunged.
Utah law allows Salt Lake City residents to file for expungement for old offenses. The waiting period is longer for more serious crimes, but you can get most crimes expunged if they are old enough. Arrests should be expunged from your record pretty quickly if the charges were never filed or were dropped. Moreover, convictions for most felony convictions can be cleared after 7 years while most misdemeanors can be cleared after 3, 4, or 5 years, depending on the class of misdemeanor.
Drug crimes are often able to be cleared earlier since these records can cause more serious harm to former convicts. Instead of waiting 7 years for a felony drug possession crime to be cleared, you can usually get this cleared after 5 years.
Drunk driving charges, however, are usually kept on your record even longer than other crimes. These can’t be cleared until 10 years have passed.
Some crimes simply can’t be expunged, such as felonies for violent crimes, felony DUI, or sex crimes. Some criminal records cannot be expunged if you’ve already had other records expunged or do not qualify for expungement for other reasons. Talk to a lawyer to learn more about getting your record expunged in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City Lawyers for Expunging Criminal Records
If you are applying to rent a house or an apartment in Salt Lake City, a criminal record might make it more difficult to get your housing application accepted. A criminal record should not stop you from getting basic human rights like housing, and our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers might be able to help you file for expungement to get your record cleared so that you can get housing and other opportunities. Call Overson Law today at (801) 758-2287 to get help with your expungement case and learn more about getting your criminal record cleared in a free legal consultation.