Can I be denied housing because of my criminal record?
- You can be denied housing because of your criminal record; however, landlords cannot have a blanket ban on prospective tenants with a criminal background.
- Also, landlords cannot discriminate on the basis of race, age, color, sex, religion, disability, familial status and other protected classes. If you feel you are being discriminated against, see below.
How can I improve my chances of approval?
- You might be able to expunge or seal part of your record, see below.
- Gather letters of support for your housing application from past landlords, neighbors, employers, treatment programs, probation and parole, case managers, teachers and counselors to show you will be a good tenant.
- Write your own letter explaining circumstances such as the length of time which has passed and your level of involvement in the crime.
What rights do I have applying to public housing?
- The Philadelphia Housing Authority can only deny you for violent criminal activity, drug related criminal activity or criminal activity that affects the health and safety of your neighbors and management. You can also be denied for other criminal activity if it occurred in the last 3-10 years.
- If your application is denied, you have a right to a written explanation and a right to an appeal.
- On appeal, you can present witnesses and letters of support and other mitigating circumstances.
Where can I go for help?
- Public Defenders for help with expungement and sealing of eligible arrests, if you were represented by them in your criminal case. Call 215-568-3190 or visit at 1441 Sansom Street.
- Community Legal Services for help with expungement and housing application denials. Call the Tenant Hotline at 267-443-2500.
- Philadelphia Human Relations Commission if you feel you are being discriminated against in your housing applications. Call 215-686-4670 or visit 601 Walnut Street, Suite 300 South.
- Fair Housing Rights Center if you feel you are being discriminated against in your housing applications. Call 215-625-0700 or visit 444 North 3rd St #110.