If you have a criminal record, you may be wondering whether your criminal history will hurt your ability to secure housing and build financial security. If you are attempting to reintegrate into society after incarceration or probation, you may find that your prior convictions are now barriers to rebuilding your life. Whether you are looking to rent for a short period before buying a home or simply between homes right now, finding appropriate housing can be stressful enough without the added obstacle of having a criminal history. Fortunately, a legal process known as expungement can help clear your name and your criminal record.
What Is Criminal Expungement?
Expungement is a legal process that permanently removes your criminal history from your record. In other words, your criminal history will no longer be visible to the public when they conduct any routine background checks. Because your criminal history will be set aside, you will no longer have to disclose it when applying for various things such as schools, employment, and housing. Some examples of matters that are expungable include:
- Court Proceedings
- Criminal or Juvenile Convictions
Although each case is different, expungements are typically available five years after a criminal defendant has completed their sentence.
Will a Criminal Record Affect My Housing Options?
Although federal and New Jersey housing authorities such as The Federal Housing Administration or The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency cannot discriminate because of one's race, nationality, or religion, landlords are motivated by their responsibility to keep their premises safe and often do consider a tenant's criminal history throughout the application process.
The Fair Chance In Housing Act
In 2021, Governor Murphy enacted The Fair Chance in Housing Act. The New Jersey Act “bars housing providers from asking about criminal history on housing applications in most instances.” Under the act, landlords may not inquire about or “rely upon” some of the following types of criminal records when reviewing housing applications:
- Arrests or charges that did not lead to a criminal conviction.
- Expunged convictions or those that are addressed through executive pardon.
- Nullified convictions.
- Juvenile delinquency matters.
- Sealed records.
The Act is a significant step forward for housing rights and helps past offenders reintegrate into the community after incarceration or serving probation. Although the Act is a positive step forward for housing rights, landlords may still have access to your criminal background while conducting routine background checks if your history is not expunged. Expunging these records can ensure that Landlords are not allowed to inquire about or consider these factors when reviewing your rental application.
Expungement Attorney in New Jersey
Expunging your criminal record can have a life-changing impact on every area of your life. After serving a criminal sentence, paying fines, or completing probation, you have worked hard to rebuild your life. If your criminal history is affecting your ability to secure housing and build financial security, the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is standing by to answer your questions. Contact us today by calling us at (888) 535-3686 or by using our online contact form.