The only person who can give you a definitive answer to the question, “Can I add a felon to my lease?” is your landlord or property manager.
When you’re renting, you don’t have the freedom to let others live in your home unless you get prior approval from your landlord. Usually, adding another person to your lease is a straightforward matter, but that’s not always the case when the person moving in has a felony on their record.
Can I Add A Felon To My Lease? (2023 Updated)
There aren’t any laws that prevent a felon from taking on a new lease or being added to an existing lease. However, it is possible for a felony to be a disqualifying factor when your landlord carries out a rental background check on the new tenant.
Even though you might be worried about your lease request being denied, you must follow the terms of your lease and seek approval for the additional tenant before you allow anyone to move in with you.
If you violate your lease agreement, you may face eviction.
An eviction may appear on your rental record, which will make it very difficult to rent another home in the future. For your own housing security, it’s important to follow the terms of your lease.
Don’t put your tenancy at risk by allowing anyone to move into your home unless you’ve obtained permission from your landlord.
Read Also: Can A Felon Live With Someone On Section 8?
Check Your Lease Agreement
Your lease agreement will specify the process you need to follow if you want to add another person to your lease.
Every landlord has their own policy, so the first thing to do is check your lease for the relevant section and see what it says.
If you don’t understand your lease agreement, contact a local legal aid group to look it over for you.
A lease will usually specify that all prospective tenants must fill out a tenancy application and pass a background check before they can be added to a lease.
It’s understandable to be wary about putting in an application if you’re worried the felony will be grounds for denial. Before you apply and pay the application fee, you’re entitled to see a copy of the landlord’s resident acceptance policy.
Your landlord should have a resident acceptance policy that they follow. This policy will set out the requirements tenants have to meet concerning their:
- Criminal background
- Rental history
- Employment history
- Credit report
If the person you want to add to your lease meets those requirements, your landlord should be willing to update the lease.
When the applicant’s background doesn’t meet the rental criteria, you won’t be able to add the person to your lease, and you’ll violate your lease agreement if you allow the person to move in.
Read This Too: Can You Refuse To Rent To Someone With A Criminal Record?
Can A Felon Pass A Rental Background Check?
Yes, a felon can pass a rental background check. It all depends on the landlord’s background check policy.
Many landlords specify that a minimum period must have passed since the felony conviction. Landlords may also refuse to rent to felons convicted of certain offenses like sexual assaults, violent offenses, drug dealing, or property crimes.
In some states, a felony offense older than 7 years won’t show on a background check because the state has placed a limit on how far back a background check can go.
These states limit background checks to 7 years:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
Can A Landlord Legally Refuse To Rent To A Felon?
Fair housing laws protect some renters from unfair discrimination. Unfortunately, felons aren’t one of the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act and landlords can refuse to rent accommodation to convicted felons.
Landlords have the right to protect their property and their investment, and they also have a duty to consider the safety of other residents.
However, their rental screening policy must be fair and it must also be applied consistently.
For a screening policy to be fair, it shouldn’t adopt a blanket rule which disqualifies all applicants with a criminal record. The policy should evaluate applicants on a case-by-case basis and consider the severity of the felony and its age.
For a screening policy to be consistent, the same standards must be applied to all applicants. A landlord can’t screen some tenants and not others, for example.
What To Do If Your Landlord Won’t Let You Add A Felon To Your Lease
Ask For A Reconsideration
If your landlord refuses to add your family member or partner to your lease, you can ask them to reconsider their decision.
The best way to ask for a reconsideration is to send a letter to your landlord and ask for a meeting. At the meeting, you can provide references and other mitigating evidence in favor of the application.
Good evidence you can supply to establish trustworthiness includes:
- Employment references
- Character references
- Reference from previous or current landlord
- Letter from probation officer (if applicable)
- Certificate of Rehabilitation (if applicable)
A landlord may also be willing to reconsider if you offer to pay an additional security deposit.
The Fair Housing Center has an appeal letter you can print out and use at this link: https://www.thehousingcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Appealing-Criminal-Background-Denial-for-Housing-Form-Letter.pdf
When it comes to criminal backgrounds, independent landlords tend to be more flexible than property managers for large corporate-owned apartment complexes.
Find Out If They Can Stay As A Guest
Another option you could try is having your family member or partner stay as a guest. If your lease puts a limit on how long a guest can stay with you, you can ask your landlord to waive that limit.
Your landlord has no obligation to waive the limit, but you’ve got nothing to lose by making the request.
Because a guest isn’t on the lease, your landlord can ask your guest to leave immediately if they cause trouble. Your landlord won’t have to worry about any eviction costs, so they may be willing to agree to your request.
Offering an additional security deposit for your guest could also work in your favor with some landlords.
Contact A Second Chance Leasing Agent
Second-chance leasing agents and second-chance apartment finders can help renters with criminal backgrounds find landlords who accept felonies.
If your current landlord won’t allow your family member/partner to live with you, you may decide that moving to a new home is your best option.
However, you’ll often face the same background check barriers with a new landlord. Using a second-chance leasing agent can save you from having to make multiple time-consuming and costly rental applications.
Can I Add A Felon To My Lease? Next Steps
- Check your lease to find out if you need your landlord’s permission before another adult moves into your home.
- If you need permission, ask for a copy of your landlord’s tenant acceptance criteria before you apply.
- Make sure you don’t risk eviction by letting an unapproved occupant live in your home.
- If your application is rejected, ask for a reconsideration meeting so you can supply references.
- If the rejection is final, contact a second-chance rental agent who can help you find a landlord willing to rent to a felon.
Interesting Article: Felony Approved Apartments Near Me
Charles Greg is the Co-Founder, Author, & Head Developer behind RentingtoFelons.org
With a lifelong passion for humanity.