Kim Kardashian West is making real estate headlines once again, but this time, it’s not for her haunting interior decor or luxury beachside condo. Instead, it’s because Kardashian West is working to help Matthew Charles, a former convict who was released from prison in January and has been rejected in his attempts to rent an apartment in Nashville, TN.
Kardashian West has offered to pay five years’ worth of Charles’ rent to help him get back on his feet. According to CNN, Charles served 21 years in prison for drug-related charges and was recently released after the First Step Act was signed into law.
This law “reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African American community,” according to President Donald Trump.
Charles first applied for an apartment after his release and was rejected. After learning that his lease application had been turned down again, Kardashian West took to Twitter to find him a housing opportunity in Nashville.
Matthew Charles’s lease application was rejected again bc of his criminal record (even w me paying his rent in advance). If there are any landlords w a 2 bedroom in Nashville willing to give Mr Charles a 2nd chance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org Serious inquiries only, thank you
After hearing about this case, we couldn’t help but wonder: Is it even legal for landlords to reject an applicant for having a criminal background? And if so, how hard would it be for Kardashian West to find Charles a new home? Here’s what to know about Kardashian West’s latest real estate endeavor.
Is it legal for a landlord to deny housing to a former convict?
The short answer? Yes, landlords are free to deny housing to prospective tenants based on a criminal record, according to Albert Anderson, a real estate agent with REAL New York, in New York City.
“Landlords have the right to legally deny an applicant on any grounds of which the identifiers are not protected by the Fair Housing Act,” Anderson says. “Conversely, landlords cannot discriminate while choosing whom to rent to on the basis of the renter’s inclusion in any of the seven federally protected classes—namely race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.”
Many states and some localities also protect other classes (e.g., sexual orientation and citizenship status) from discrimination. Because a criminal record status is not protected in Tennessee, “technically, a landlord in that state could legally discriminate against an applicant with a record,” Anderson adds.
However, landlords are required by law to apply the same standard of treatment to different classes of protected applicants, says landlord Domenick Tiziano of AccidentalRental.com.
“The classic example is the landlord who denies a Hispanic applicant for having a criminal record and then allows a white applicant with a similar criminal past,” Tiziano points out. “This is discrimination against a protected class and is prohibited by law.”
Will Kim Kardashian West’s help really make a difference?
Despite Nashville’s competitive real estate market, our experts predict that Kardashian West will be able find a landlord who will rent an apartment to Charles.
“A celebrity’s clout and financial support will without a doubt help the man secure housing,” Anderson says. “The landlord might just be a big fan, but having Kim Kardashian as the guarantor with five years’ rent upfront doesn’t hurt.”
Plus, landlords who do rent to folks with criminal backgrounds typically accept applications based on the severity of the crime committed, and Janis Benstock, broker and owner of Settle Down Philadelphia, in Philadelphia, anticipates that Charles’ nonviolent drug offenses won’t be a deal breaker.
“Assuming he did not land in jail for manufacturing and running a drug ring, I would probably rent to him,” Benstock says. “If he wants to come to Philadelphia, I will probably be able to place him in a home. I hope that people will use fairness and common sense and give this man a chance to rebuild his life.”
Source: Housing Trends Feed