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New York bill would prevent landlords from accessing criminal background checks for tenants

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Lawmakers in New York City are considering legislation which could deny landlords of the right perform criminal background checks on potential clients.

The legislation, which is known as the “Fair Chance for Housing Act,” is set to be put towards the New York City Council’s Committee on Civil Rights on December 8th has been backed by at least least 30 of the council’s 51 members, the New York Post reported

“No one should be denied housing because they were once engaged with the criminal justice system, plain and simple,” a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Eric Adams told Fox Business. “We will work closely with our partners in the City Council to ensure this bill has maximum intended impact.”

The bill has its critics, including Republican Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, who tweeted that the “safety of families” is at stake.

“A bill which would prohibit landlords from conducting criminal background checks of potential tenants,” Vernikov tweeted. “Murdered someone? Beat up your girlfriend? Robbed? Stabbed your neighbor? No problem. Come live among us!”

“Today is supposed to be a day of gratitude, not attacking,” Manhattan Democratic councilman Keith Powers replied to Vernikov. “We don’t believe in second chances anymore?”

Vernikov went onto ask Powers if he would “be willing to rent a floor of your home to s/o who has a long rap sheet and history of burglarizing homes/assaulting people?”

“I’m not saying no to second chances, but your bill wouldn’t even allow us to see rap sheet,” Vernikov said.

The New York City Housing Authority would be exempt from the bill as they would still be required by federal law to mandate background checks and it will also not apply to citizens who rent out single rooms.

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