Having a criminal record can make it hard to get a job, receive loans, and even find housing. In many cases, discriminating against rental applicants with a criminal record is legal in Utah. This means that a landlord might be able to reject you just because you have a criminal record, and there might not be any legal recourse for you unless they discriminated in another illegal way. However, there may be ways that you can get your criminal record cleared so that your potential landlord can’t use it against you. The Salt Lake City expungement lawyers at Overson Law explain.
Can Your Landlord Run a Background Check in Utah?
Landlords and other property owners are typically allowed to run background checks on people applying to rent from them. This means that if you have a prior criminal record, they might see it. However, not all background checks look for the same thing.
Some background checks, especially for jobs dealing with driving or transportation, might look for offenses like drunk driving on your record. However, a landlord might not look for this at all. Landlords might only run a background check for felonies, which means that misdemeanor offenses like simple assault, theft, or DUI might not appear on the check. They might also ignore infractions and violations, which cover very low-level crimes like disorderly conduct.
Background checks might also look only for convictions, which means that an arrest will not appear on the record.
Can Landlords Discriminate Against Former Criminals in Utah?
Refusing to rent to people with a criminal record is in fact discrimination. Unfortunately for many ex-convicts and people who have already served their time, this kind of discrimination is usually legal. In some cases, discriminating against someone for having a record might overlap with discriminating against them for their race or the color of their skin, especially since people of color are disproportionately charged with crimes. This kind of discrimination would be illegal under the Fair Housing Act, which is a federal anti-discrimination law. However, this law is not usually enforced this way.
Utah actually swings the other way with some of its laws. Instead of having laws preventing discrimination against people with former convictions on their record, some cities in Utah actually give landlords incentives to keep people with a criminal record from renting in their community. These “Good Landlord Programs” hurt people with a criminal record who are trying to re-enter the community.
Statistics show that people with a criminal record have a harder time getting housing and jobs. Statistics also show that not having a job and not having a secure place to live increases the risk that someone will commit additional crimes, with homeless people or people who are denied rental applications often having a higher rate of recidivism than people who have somewhere to stay.
If you committed a crime in the past, a landlord might not care if it happened a long time ago; they might deny you housing anyway. That means getting your record cleared of any old convictions might be the best way to help you get housing in Utah.
Criminal Record Expungement for Housing in Utah
If you’re applying to rent a house or an apartment in Utah, having a criminal record might hurt your chances of having the application accepted. Fortunately for many, there might be ways around these roadblocks.
If you can avoid a conviction in the first place, you might be able to prevent the record from hurting you. Records of arrests are typically cleared from your criminal record quite quickly if the charges were dismissed or no charges were filed, which means that shutting down the case against you quickly can keep you from having a record in the first place. Our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers might be able to fight new charges to help avoid this. However, if you already have a record, we might need to turn to expungement to get the record cleared.
Old crimes on your criminal record can usually be expunged in Utah. This means that the offense is wiped from your record so that employers and landlords cannot see it. Not every crime is eligible for expungement, with felony DUI offenses, violent crimes charged as felonies, and sexual offenses not qualifying for expungement. However, most other crimes do qualify.
To get a record expunged, it must be for an older offense. For infractions and class C misdemeanors, you may be able to get the offense expunged after a few years:
- Infractions and ungraded misdemeanors can be expunged after 3 years.
- Class B misdemeanors can be expunged after 4 years.
- Class A misdemeanors can be expunged after 5 years.
More serious crimes may take even longer to expunge:
- Felony drug possession charges can typically be expunged after 5 years.
- Other eligible felony offenses can be expunged after 7 years.
- Misdemeanor drunk driving charges can be expunged after 10 years.
Despite the fact that a DUI conviction is typically a misdemeanor offense, you usually need to wait 10 years to have these charges expunged. However, landlords might not care much about a DUI conviction and might not even look for this in a background check. However, if your DUI is eligible for expungement, it is better not to risk walking around with a criminal record.
Some charges are ineligible for expungement, and some people do not qualify for expungement for various reasons. Talk to a lawyer for help with your expungement case.
Call Our Utah Expungement Lawyers for a Free Case Consultation
If you are applying for housing in Utah, call our Salt Lake City expungement lawyers for help getting your criminal record cleared and improving your chances of getting your application accepted. Overson Law’s Utah criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience helping people fight charges and get their records cleared to help them with housing, loans, and employment. For a free case consultation, call our lawyers today at (801) 758-2287.