Denial Because of Criminal History

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If you are denied low-income housing, you should challenge the denial of your application. You have the right to have a hearing/meeting to challenge the decision. You should immediately notify the housing complex in writing that you wish to have a hearing or meeting to challenge the denial. You should keep a copy of your letter for your records. The housing complex will notify you of the time and place of the hearing/meeting.

You should be aware of the legal standard under which the housing complex has denied your application. Federal law states that, in considering an application for low-income housing, the housing complex can consider "A history of criminal activity involving crimes of physical violence to persons or property and other criminal acts which would adversely affect the health, safety or welfare of other tenants."

At the hearing/meeting on your denial, you can do one of three things:

  1. show that the information the housing complex relied upon to deny your application was incorrect or false; or
  2. show that, even if the information was correct, you would still make a good tenant.
  3. show that the criminal record was expunged and/or you were pardoned by the governor.

In order to show number 2 above, you can argue that the criminal violations were a long time ago and/or were not very serious. The housing complex is also required, by federal law, to consider evidence of rehabilitation or a willingness to participate in a social service or other counseling service. In order to show rehabilitation, you can show that you have successfully completed probation or parole, or otherwise successfully completed a treatment program.

You can bring documents to the hearing/meeting as evidence. For example, you can bring a letter from a counselor which states that you would make a good tenant. You can also bring witnesses to the hearing, such as a parole officer, counselor or minister who knows you well. Your case is always stronger if you bring documents or witnesses to the hearing.

After the hearing/meeting, the housing complex manager will make a decision in writing advising you of their decision. In most cases the decision to admit you is in their discretion. The decision will be mailed to you within a week or two of the hearing/meeting.

Source: Colorado Legal Services

Reviewed August 2009