Up until a month ago, a person with a criminal record might have found it difficult to find a place to rent. But changes made by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has made it harder for landlords and home sellers to give a blanket “no” based solely on a person’s criminal background.
“It is a very competitive market out there,” said Fair Housing Center of West Michigan Director of Education and Outreach Liz Keegan, who will be one of the speakers at the City of Wyoming’s fair housing seminar set for April 25. Keegan said from what they have heard, houses have been selling before they even get on the market and with such a competitive market, it is important to make sure people are not being too particular in their choices that would impede fair housing.
For the past several years, the City of Wyoming Community Development Office has hosted a seminar for rental property owners and housing professionals to assist them in their daily compliance with fair housing laws and also provide information on local agencies and resources that address various housing-related issues. This year’s seminar is from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. April 25 in the Community Room at the Wyoming Senior Center, 2380 DeHoop Ave. SW.
In fact, criminal background checks are just one of the many topics landlords and home sellers need to consider, Keegan said. Another is assistance animals, which covers not only trained service animals but animals designated for emotional support.
“We really view these seminars as more of a risk prevention opportunity,” Keegan said, adding its an opportunity for the Fair Housing of West Michigan to educate and provide resources on federal, state and HUD guidelines.
Along with the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan’s update on fair housing practices, the Wyoming Department of Public Safety will present “A Crime-Free Multiple Family Housing Program,” and The Salvation Army Social Services will discuss “Eviction Prevention Assistance.”
The Rental Property Owners Association, which is sponsoring the event with the City of Wyoming Community Development Office, and Wyoming building inspectors will be on hand to answer questions and provide assistance.
Keegan noted that the City of Wyoming has done a nice job of growing the seminar over the years with up to 90 people in attendance. Landlords, rental agents, property management personnel, real estate agents, residents and others are invited to attend the seminar. Each attendee will be issued a certificate of completion.
The seminar is free, and a continental breakfast will be provided to attendees. Registration is required by April 18. To register, call 530-3164.
The City of Wyoming, which has about 10,798 rental units within its limits, prohibits unfair housing practices through its adopted City Code Section 42-53 and also has certified to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that it will affirmatively further fair housing.
For further information, call the City of Wyoming at 530-7266, or visit the City website at www.wyomingmi.gov.
April is Fair Housing Month with the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan hosting its annual event, the 29th Annual Luncheon & Workshop Series with “Remember the Titans” Coach Herman Boone May 19. This event is at the Crowne Plaza, 5700 28th St. SE. For more information, visit the Fair Housing of West Michigan website.