Can a felon be a landlord? Surprising Secrets You Didn’t Know

Have you ever wondered if can a felon be a landlord? Finding stable employment and housing can be highly challenging for many previously incarcerated individuals. However, some individuals have broken through these barriers, demonstrating that with unwavering determination and relentless hard work, even those with a criminal past can achieve transformation through entrepreneurship.

Despite facing obstacles and societal stigmas, even felons ask themselves whether can a felon be a landlord. Some have proven that individuals with criminal records can successfully reintegrate into society with the proper support and opportunities.  


What kind of criminal activity would prevent a felon from being a landlord?

Specific restrictions for individuals with criminal records who wish to purchase property in the United States vary by state, city, and type of offense. However, some general restrictions apply when asking, “Can a felon be a landlord?”.

Housing and Landlord Responsibilities

  • Housing Discrimination: Discriminating against potential tenants based on race, religion, national origin, disability, family status, or other protected characteristics.
  • Tenant Harassment: Engaging in actions intended to intimidate, threaten, or force tenants to leave their homes, such as illegal rent increases, utility shut-offs, or threats of violence.
  • Illegal Eviction: Evicting tenants without following proper legal procedures or without a valid reason.
  • Property Code Violations: Repeatedly failing to maintain a rental property to meet minimum health and safety standards, leading to fines or legal action.

Violence or Threats

  • Domestic Violence: Convictions for domestic violence can raise concerns about the safety of potential tenants, particularly if the landlord has a history of violence against former partners or family members.
  • Assault and Battery: Convictions for assault or battery, especially if they involve tenants or potential tenants, can make it challenging to obtain a landlord license or attract tenants.
  • Threats of Violence: Making threats of violence towards tenants or others can damage a landlord’s reputation and make it difficult to operate a rental property.
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Can a felon be a landlord?


  • Child Abuse or Neglect: Convictions for child abuse or neglect can raise serious concerns about the safety of potential tenants with children.
  • Sexual Offenses Against Children: Convictions for sexual offenses against children can severely impact a person’s ability to become a landlord, as it raises serious safety concerns.

Financial Irresponsibility

  • Fraud: As discussed previously, convictions for fraud, including mortgage fraud, rental fraud, or identity theft, can raise concerns about a landlord’s financial trustworthiness.
  • Embezzlement: Misappropriating funds entrusted to you can damage your reputation and make securing financing for a rental property difficult.
  • Forgery and Counterfeiting: These crimes can indicate a pattern of dishonesty and financial irresponsibility. 

On the other hand, felons for drug-related offenses, especially those involving distribution or possession with intent to distribute, can raise concerns about the safety of tenants and the potential for illegal activity on the property. The same applies to unlawful possession of firearms or other weapons.

Tips to consider when being a landlord and a felon

After knowing the answer to “Can a felon be a landlord?” and if you are considering becoming a landlord, there are some tips you must know. This way, you will be able to learn about your rights; that’s why it’s essential to consult with an attorney. A professional real estate attorney can guide you on local laws and regulations and help you obtain a landlord license.

It would help if you were transparent. Disclosing criminal history upfront can build trust and help avoid potential issues later. Finally, demonstrate your rehabilitation by highlighting positive changes in your life, such as employment history, community involvement, or participation in rehabilitation programs, which can strengthen your application.

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Can a felon be a landlord?

Can you rent a house as a felon?

Many landlords often conduct background checks on potential tenants. As a result, having a felony conviction could make it more difficult to find housing. However, it’s important to note that no laws prohibit landlords from renting to individuals with felony convictions.

  • HUD Guidelines: Back in 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made it easier for folks with felony records to find housing. If you’ve stayed out of trouble for seven years after getting out of prison, HUD considers you no more risky than someone who’s never committed a felony.
  • Sex Offenders: Landlords usually steer clear of renting to lifetime sex offenders since their behavior is challenging to change. A judge determines a sex offender’s risk level, which can be low, moderate, or high.
  • Seven Years Without Offending: According to HUD, if you manage to stay out of trouble for seven years post-prison, it’s a solid sign you’re aiming for a normal life. Studies show that the likelihood of reoffending drops significantly after this period.
  • Tenant Screening: Owners of rental properties with four or more units can set rules about renting to people with criminal records. They can consider the type of crime and how long ago it happened. It’s wise for them to chat with a lawyer to ensure they follow the law.
  • Legal Discrimination: Landlords can legally refuse to rent to someone because of their criminal history in order to protect the property and its residents. However, landlords should also consider HUD’s policy. This policy gives ex-offenders a fair shot at housing if they’ve kept their nose clean for seven years.
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Can a felon be a landlord in the U.S.?

There is no universal federal law prohibiting felons from becoming landlords. However, state and local laws can vary. In some jurisdictions, there are restrictions for felon landlords. Additionally, some places have additional requirements.

Can a felon get a real estate license?

The eligibility of a felon to acquire a real estate license is subject to variation based on state regulations. Certain states may prohibit individuals with specific felony convictions from obtaining licenses. Others may permit it if individuals provide proper disclosures and demonstrate rehabilitation.

Are there any special considerations for felons managing rental properties?

As landlords, you must know that individuals with prior felonies may require extra attention. Consider them carefully due to legal and liability concerns. It is necessary to thoroughly understand applicable laws, maintain transparency, and establish comprehensive tenant screening and property management protocols.