Attorney General Matthew Platkin and the Division on Civil Rights announced Wednesday that the state has issued 30 notices of violation to housing providers across the state for allegedly violating New Jersey’s Fair Chance in Housing Act.
The housing providers allegedly violated the law by asking criminal history-related questions on housing applications that are prohibited by the law, or by posting housing advertisements, or maintaining housing policies that do not comply with state law.
Violation notices were served on housing providers located in 23 municipalities across nine counties – Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Union). The state has issued 124 violation notices to housing providers since the law went into effect in January 2022.
The Fair Chance in Housing Act went into effect on January 1, 2022, and bars housing providers from stating in any housing advertisements they post or publish that they will not consider housing applicants with a criminal record. The law also bars housing providers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on an application form or in an interview prior to making the applicant a conditional offer of housing. Because policies and practices that limit housing opportunities for people with criminal records have a disproportionate impact on people of color and on Black people in particular, the law addresses a significant driver of racial inequity in housing, officials said.
“The Fair Chance in Housing Act reflects the Murphy Administration’s continued commitment to ensuring that housing is accessible to all New Jerseyans,” said Platkin. “People who have had an encounter with the criminal legal system must have fair access to housing so they can return to their communities with dignity without facing the difficulties caused by housing instability. Our actions against these housing providers today underscore that commitment.”
Notices of violation inform the housing providers that the state is aware that they have either asked a discriminatory question on a housing application form or have included an unlawful statement of eligibility criteria such as “no criminal records” in housing advertising materials. The notices advise housing providers that the state believes their actions are in violation of the law, and that they may face civil penalties of up to $1,000 for a first offense, up to $5,000 for a second offense, and up to $10,000 for any subsequent offense.
“The Fair Chance in Housing Act is a pathbreaking statute that prevents housing discrimination on the basis of prior criminal history,” said Sundeep Iyer, Director of the Division on Civil Rights. “Make no mistake: We will continue to hold housing providers accountable when they violate this landmark law.”