The City of Oakland is now the only metropolis in the U.S. to ban criminal background checks for potential tenants.
The Oakland City Council approved this measure on Tuesday, banning all landlords from asking a potential tenant about their criminal history, or rejecting them because of it.
According to the Los Angeles Times, this ordinance is the strictest of its kind in the state, and covers both public and private housing.
Oakland City Council member Nikki Fortunato told the LA Times, “This ordinance is about making sure returning community members have equal opportunities they deserve to successfully reintegrate into our community, and this begins with a roof over your head.”
Landlords have six months to implement the new law. After that, they will face a fine violation of up to $1,000.
Criminal history background checks have prevented many people who have been incarcerated from finding housing, especially in Oakland where the housing market is already tight. Some citizens with a decades-old criminal history have said that they’ve had to resort to sleeping in their cars because of constant rejections from landlords.
However, the government is required to deny those on Section 8 housing who have been convicted of manufacturing meth or are on the state’s lifetime sex offender registry.