Tenants w/ Felonies in the PAST

7 Replies

Hi BP,


Happy Friday! 


Curious as to how landlords are handling tenants with criminal records in the past (5 years or longer).  


I just had a well "financially qualified" tenant apply for one of my SINGLE FAMILY houses.  They have 2 felonies on their record, one from 2015 (burglary) and 2001 (assault- they were 19) .  They are well qualified finically, decent credit, but have these 2 looming charges.  

When do you make the cutoff for the "exemption/ second chance" ? If you do give a second chance, would you ask for more of a deposit upfront (maybe non-refundable), or increase rent a little? 


Would love everyones thoughts. 

@Cassidy Burns

On the properties that I self manage I will allow as long as it was a non violent felony and the current situation is stable (good job, income, credit).

On the properties I syndicate and have third party Managment, I leave that to the Discretion of the property manager.

I agree with @Derek Carroll on the distinction between properties that are outright mine vs those I manage or am in another type of partnership with.  But my feeling is if the person was of an exemplary credit/criminal background, they would not be renting from me in the first place.  So I would have a candid conversation with them about the offense, the circumstances associated with it, what was going on in their life at that time, and how are things different now.  My personal experience is that many people with these  black marks are so appreciative of the break you are giving them that they wind up being  great tenants.

Recently there have been municipalities that have set guidelines (regulations) that prohibit denying a tenant for previous criminal convictions at least x-years ago.  Please check with your municipality before taking action, just to keep yourself safe.

Other than that, the advice already given is sound.

Q: What is the purpose of screening applicants? 

A: To determine the level of risk to your property, your income stream, or people.

The conviction from 2001 conviction at age 19 doesn't bother me. If they don't have any more convictions after that, it indicates they probably cleaned up. The 2015 burglary is a little bothersome because that's only five years ago.

More importantly, how long have they been out? If they've been out for three years and have solid employment and rental history, then you are probably OK. If they just got out six months ago, I would argue it's still too high risk.

@Cassidy Burns I believe in my state of Oregon it is now illegal to discriminate against a felon and for sure if their eviction is more than one year old. Yeah, right !

Originally posted by @Cassidy Burns :

Hi BP,

Happy Friday! 

Curious as to how landlords are handling tenants with criminal records in the past (5 years or longer).  

I just had a well "financially qualified" tenant apply for one of my SINGLE FAMILY houses.  They have 2 felonies on their record, one from 2015 (burglary) and 2001 (assault- they were 19) .  They are well qualified finically, decent credit, but have these 2 looming charges.  

When do you make the cutoff for the "exemption/ second chance" ? If you do give a second chance, would you ask for more of a deposit upfront (maybe non-refundable), or increase rent a little? 

Would love everyones thoughts. 

 It depends on the property and if you think you can find a better quality tenant. As the economy gets better, the better qualified tenants will rent nicer properties or even buy houses. The guy is almost 30 years old. People with felonies have a harder time renting, which means he is more likely to stick around. It is embarrassing having to explain your felonies to multiple landlords. 

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