Oakland Is 1st Major California City To Ban Criminal Background Checks On Renters

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Oakland has banned landlords from rejecting renters based on their criminal histories. Photo Credit: MMG

In effort to address its massive homeless problem, Oakland has banned landlords from rejecting renters based on their criminal histories. The California city recently voted unanimously to outlaw mandatory background checks, becoming the first city to do so, reported CNN.

According to the ordinance passed by the city council, those who violate the policy could face up to $1,000 in fines for each offense. Named the Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance, the new law is expected to assist those who’ve paid their debts to society with re-entering society successfully and avoiding recidivism.

“This ordinance is about making sure returning community members have equal opportunities they deserve to successfully reintegrate into our community, and this begins with a roof over your head,” Oakland council member Nikki Fortunato Bas said. Bas cosponsored the ordinance with Dan Kalb and Vice Mayor Larry Reid, according to the LA Times.

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Is it an issue that is very personal to aviation mechanic Josh Jones III, who was released from prison in 2012, but has experienced trouble finding a good place to call home.

“We’ve all made mistakes. Who wants to be permanently punished for a mistake they have made,” Jones said. “When you have a safe place to call home … you’re in a stronger position to get a job, to go to school, to get help that you need.”

Landlords will have six months to adjust to the law, the Times reported. There are some exemptions to the law including: single-family homes, government-subsidized affordable housing and shared quarters like duplexes, triplexes, in-law quarters and certain roommate situations.

Sex offenders will also still be subject to criminal background checks.