New Jersey Enforces Fair Chance in Housing Act with Notices to 35 Housing Providers


Statewide Crackdown on Discrimination Based on Criminal History in Housing Applications.

The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR), under the guidance of Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, has issued 35 Notices of Violation to housing providers across the state for non-compliance with the Fair Chance in Housing Act (FCHA). This pioneering state law, the first of its kind in the nation, aims to eliminate discrimination against individuals with prior criminal records seeking housing, ensuring broader protections and fairer access to housing opportunities.

These violations were identified in 23 municipalities spanning 12 counties, including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, and Union. The allegations center around prohibited criminal history-related questions on applications, explicit disqualifications based on past criminal records, and housing advertisements or policies not in line with the FCHA's mandates.

Since its enactment in January 2022, the DCR has initiated over 150 enforcement actions against housing providers, signaling a robust effort to uphold the law's protections. The FCHA plays a crucial role in addressing racial inequities in housing access, as policies restricting housing based on criminal records disproportionately impact people of color, particularly Black individuals.

Attorney General Platkin emphasized the importance of housing stability for those impacted by the justice system, stating that New Jersey's commitment to fair housing access is unwavering, regardless of one's criminal history. This stance is reinforced by DCR Director Sundeep Iyer, who highlighted the ongoing challenge of ensuring compliance with the FCHA and the commitment to continue prioritizing enforcement actions.

The Notices of Violation serve as a formal acknowledgment of the alleged infractions, advising housing providers of the potential civil penalties they face for non-compliance, which can escalate up to $10,000 for repeated offenses. Accompanying these notices are detailed information packets outlining the FCHA's requirements, clarifying that housing providers cannot lawfully inquire about or consider certain criminal records or history before making a conditional housing offer.

This enforcement action underscores New Jersey's proactive stance in eradicating barriers to housing for individuals with criminal records, ensuring a fairer, more inclusive approach to housing accessibility. The DCR's dedicated Fair Chance in Housing Unit continues its vigilant oversight and investigative efforts to safeguard the rights established under the FCHA and promote equitable housing practices across the state.

For more information on the FCHA and how to file a complaint with DCR, please click here.

To view a related video on the FCHA, click here.

DCR is the state agency responsible for preventing and eliminating discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation (e.g., places open to the public like schools, businesses, hospitals, etc.) by enforcing the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and the Fair Chance in Housing Act (FCHA).

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