As a general rule, it is not against the law for a landlord to have a policy of refusing to rent to an individual because of his or her criminal history. However, if the policy has a greater, or disparate, impact on a protected class (race, national origin, disability), it may be subject to challenge.
In Massachusetts a housing provider’s access to criminal records is governed by law and the law is changing. For an outline of the current law and the changes to the law that will be in effect in May, 2012, see an analysis prepared by the Massachusetts ACLU and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.
Update on MFHC’s response to COVID-19
Dear Friends, this is to update you on MFHC’s response to COVID-19. On March 16, 2020, we closed our physical office and began to work remotely to continue to serve our clients’ needs during the State of Emergency. We temporarily suspended our acceptance of complaint intakes at that time, but effective March 30, 2020, we will resume accepting complaints of housing discrimination.
The best way to file a complaint is to use our online intake form, but if that is not possible, you can always call our office at 413-539-9796 x 101. Please be sure to leave your message on extension 101. We will retrieve messages left on extension 101 several times a day.
We know that housing is a fundamental human need and is especially important during a pandemic, when people are asked to shelter-in-place. Unfortunately, we also know that housing discrimination worsens during pandemics and financial crises. We have already heard about incidents of discrimination based on national origin and disability, and that sheltering-in-place can be especially dangerous for victims of domestic violence. We are here to help anyone experiencing these urgent issues and will provide the highest level of services possible given our current circumstances. We appreciate your understanding and patience, and we hope you will stay safe during this stressful time.