⚫ Housing providers in 23 NJ municipalities have been cited

⚫ Only after a conditional offer is made can one's criminal history be asked about

⚫ The fine can be $10,000 after multiple offenses

In New Jersey, housing providers can't let one's criminal history determine whether they'll be offered a place to live.

But it's apparently happening all over the state.

"Notices of Violation" have been issued to 35 housing providers across 12 counties for allegedly violating New Jersey's Fair Chance in Housing Act, the Attorney General's Office announced on Monday.

NJ's Fair Chance in Housing Act

New Jersey's law, which went into effect in January 2022, provides protections against housing discrimination on the basis of one's prior criminal history. It can't be asked about during initial interviews or on housing applications, and it can't be a factor mentioned on any housing advertisements.

"Housing stability is critical to ensuring that justice-impacted individuals can return to their communities with dignity and build successful lives," said Attorney General Matthew Platkin. "Our actions against these housing providers today underscore our commitment to making safe and affordable housing a reality for our state's residents, notwithstanding their criminal history."

Since the law's enactment, the Division on Civil Rights has brought over 150 enforcement actions against housing providers for alleged violations.

The latest alleged violations

The latest enforcement actions involve several different types of violations. In some cases, officials said, unlawful questions were included on initial housing applications. In other cases, DCR investigators contacted brokers and housing providers and asked whether they would consider an applicant who had a prior criminal record — and they indicated that they would not.

The housing providers included in the latest round of enforcement are located in 23 municipalities across Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, and Union counties.

The notices advise the providers that their actions are believed to be in violation of the law, and that they may face penalties of up to $1,000 for a first offense, up to $5,000 for a second offense, and up to $10,000 for additional offenses.

Under New Jersey's law, a housing provider can only inquire about an applicant's criminal history, or conduct a background check, after making the applicant a conditional offer.

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