NEW YORK (PIX11) — A new bill would ban New York City landlords from viewing criminal records of prospective tenants

More than 30 New York City Council members put their name on a bill, with supporters saying it would end housing discrimination. But the bill is getting a lot of pushback. Those against it worry it could put residents at risk.

Under the Fair Chance Housing Act, landlords or real estate brokers would be prohibited from obtaining criminal record information at any stage in the process. The bill has two exemptions. The sex offender registry can be checked. Landlords of two-family homes or rooms in owner-occupied housing are allowed to look up a tenant’s criminal history. Landlords would not be liable for criminal activity of a tenant.

“When they walk in to try to rent an apartment, there is a barrier in the way no matter if they have rehabilitated themselves or found a good job, no matter if they have a family. They are being told that they can’t get an apartment in a very hyper competitive market for housing,” Councilman Keith Powers said. “We want to find the balance between public safety and addressing the housing crisis but what’s clear is that background checks are not being used effectively and we are denying too many people housing on the basis of a mistake in their past.”

Powers was booed outside City Hall by New Yorkers rallying against the bill on Wednesday.

Myrna Calderon, board president of the Fordham Hill Owners Corporation, said it is her job to keep tenants safe and this bill would prevent her from doing that. 

“We don’t think a person who committed a violent crime should be living next door to one of our delicate seniors,” Calderon said. “We have always been about second chances and fairness, but when you take away our ability to keep our people safe, that’s not ok. You are going to push the working class and middle class out of NYC because this is the last nail in the coffin. If we can’t provide safety and know who’s living next door to us in our own homes, then it’s game over.”

A City Hall Hearing on the bill is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m.