Lying on an apartment application?


#1

Ok so we probably won't be moving into an apartment, but we may be moving and I was looking over the application to a really great new apartment in a great part of town. On it, it asks if you have ever been charged with a felony or arrested on felony charges. Well, the answer is yes for both my husband and me (stupid teenage prank gone wrong, nobody was hurt). I was arrested but never charged and my husband plead guilty but it was expunged from his record because he was a juvenile at the time.

My question is, does the apartment really have a right to this information??? According to the government and public records, the answer is no-our records are clean. How much information does an apartment complex really have a right to? What if they asked me if I wear g-string underwear or listen to rap music? Do I have to answer truthfully? My understanding is that I don't have to give them any information to which they are not entitled.


#2

I don’t know what you legally have to do, but yes, the apartment complex has a right to ask for this information, in the same way they ask for references and income information. They want to make sure you not only will pay, but that you are not a criminal who will make the community unsafe. In every apartment complex I have lived in I have had a criminal background check, which I appreciate. I prefer to live in a safe community.

And I hardly think asking if you’ve been charged with a felony is anywhere near the same as asking what kind of music you listen to. It’s not some violation of your rights- you could choose not to answer and live somewhere else. I live in a non-smoking building and they asked us if we smoked too. That being said, since you were never charged and neither of you have records, I’m not sure what I would do. I’m inclined to think it’s fine to leave it off, but I know nothing about the legality of the situation.


#3

[quote="Lorelei12, post:2, topic:325179"]
I don't know what you legally have to do, but yes, the apartment complex has a right to ask for this information, in the same way they ask for references and income information. They want to make sure you not only will pay, but that you are not a criminal who will make the community unsafe. In every apartment complex I have lived in I have had a criminal background check, which I appreciate. I prefer to live in a safe community.

And I hardly think asking if you've been charged with a felony is anywhere near the same as asking what kind of music you listen to. It's not some violation of your rights- you could choose not to answer and live somewhere else. I live in a non-smoking building and they asked us if we smoked too. That being said, since you were never charged and neither of you have records, I'm not sure what I would do. I'm inclined to think it's fine to leave it off, but I know nothing about the legality of the situation.

[/quote]

don't give legal advice. expungement or sealed records mean different things in different states, what a landlord can ask for varies, what kinds of records are available varies. the OP should ask a local lawyer or call the county bar association and ask for a referral, she'll probably get the answer for free. I can't give legal advice, but I'd be surprised if the OP weren't pleased with the results.

F/


#4

They are free to do a criminal background check. It will turn up nothing be ause my husband and I do NOT have criminal records. Asking if someone was ever CHARGED with a felony seems like a violation of privacy to me, and probably illegal like the poster above said. I mean, I could have been charged with a murder that I couldn’t have committed because I was out of the country and the charges dropped later on. But if I wrote “yes” on the form, that would probably cause them to discriminate against me unfairly.

They can go through the public records and find out whatever that brings up, no problem.


#5

[quote="Fairwinds, post:3, topic:325179"]
don't give legal advice.

[/quote]

I said, twice, that I don't know what the appropriate legal course of action would be.


#6

Maybe this is too simplistic, but could you just reply that you do not have a criminal record?


#7

[quote="thewanderer, post:6, topic:325179"]
Maybe this is too simplistic, but could you just reply that you do not have a criminal record?

[/quote]

seriously... don't give legal advice.


#8

It’s a check box with a yes/no answer, so not really. I could always just explain the situation, but I just think it’s none of their business if someone was on e CHARGED with a felony if they were never convicted. That’s like asking a woman if anyone has ever called her a slut. The answer may be yes, but lots of women who aren’t promiscuous have been CALLED a slut. Hell, I’ve been called a slut and I’ve only ever been with my husband who is my high-school sweetheart :slight_smile: If I went to interview for a job teaching kids about chastity and someone asked if I had ever been called a slut, I would be reluctant to answer because I would be setting myself up for unfounded and unjust discrimination. Of course, I would also never take a job if one of the interview questions had the word “slut” in it, so problem solved.


#9

[quote="Fairwinds, post:7, topic:325179"]
seriously... don't give legal advice.

[/quote]

sorry, I should have added a disclaimer that I am not qualified to give legal advice. :shrug: It was just an idea to think about, and obviously something that if she thinks about she should still bring up with a laywer to find out their opinion on it.


#10

yeah… I figured that might be the case. Oh well, I definitely think you should get legal advice about this to make sure that you don’t find youself in trouble legally, but, I’m assuming that since you asked on here you are looking for moral advice here, am I correct?


#11

Keep in mind that although is record was expunged, depending on how long ago it was if it was ever in the newspaper or anything like that, it can still be found out.

I do agree that the way it is worded is weird and that what they should care about is whether or not there is a record. But most landlords have lawyers who look over their lease and application information to make sure it’s legal.


#12

[quote="thewanderer, post:10, topic:325179"]
yeah.. I figured that might be the case. Oh well, I definitely think you should get legal advice about this to make sure that you don't find youself in trouble legally, but, I'm assuming that since you asked on here you are looking for moral advice here, am I correct?

[/quote]

Right.


#13

You need to check with a lawyer in your state. =/ Even if someone here is a lawyer and can legally answer such questions, that does not mean that they can practice in your state or would know the laws there.

The only advise I will give you is that if you have lawyers that you work with regularly, I have found that some [but not all] will answer very brief questions by phone at no charge due to being an ongoing client that they value so long as you’re not phoning them all the time about every little thing.


#14

Others may disagree but my personal opinion is that if it is legal to answer no, then it is clear that such a question is considered as asking about a criminal record rather than what it appears to be asking, and so, it would also be moral to respond no. This is because you would be answering the question according to its commonly ( by the govt) established meaning. So I would say follow the legal advice and you’ll be fine. :slight_smile:


#15

**Questions You Cannot Ask a Prospective Tenant **

2. Have You Ever Been Arrested?

You cannot ask a prospective tenant if they have ever been arrested. There is a big difference between being arrested and being convicted of a crime. ** You can ask the prospective tenant if they have ever been convicted of a crime. **This is something that can be readily discovered by running a background check. Keep in mind that in many states, such as California, you cannot discriminate against a person because they have been convicted of a crime. The crime would have to influence their ability to be a good tenant, such as an illegal drug conviction or a history of violent offenses which could put other tenants at risk.

landlords.about.com/od/Landlord101/a/Questions-You-Cannot-Ask-A-Prospective-Tenant.htm


#16

don’t give legal advice.


#17

The best course of action is to ask a lawyer. You could also see if there is a legal aid society or a consultation line you could call that may be able to advise you for free.
The last thing you want to do is make an uninformed decision about filling it out, and then be on the hook for damages for a contractual violation.
Get legal advice


#18

In many states, the answer to that question is legally “no” if you were charged as a juvenile. Also, I’m pretty sure that all they can ask you about it is convictions and criminat records, not arrests and charges.*

*Not legal advice


#19

[quote="Fairwinds, post:7, topic:325179"]
seriously... don't give legal advice.

[/quote]

I have never seen a question construed as advice.


#20

giving advice indirectly through questions is a big legal ethics issue, sometimes called the anatomy of a murder problem. here, its against forum rules.

F/


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