Law could change to allow felons to rent apartments

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Starting next year, apartments will not be held negligent in some cases if a tenant commits a crime on the property. (KTRK)

Right now, a majority of apartment communities will not rent to individuals with felonies on their record. But that could all change at the beginning of the new year.

Michael Chadwick is moving to Houston from Columbus, Ohio for work and was given a week to find an apartment. But his past is making it nearly impossible to find a home here.

"They're giving my no options at all. They're saying you have a felony, walk out the door," Chadwick said. "I really think it's unfair."

When he was 19, Chadwick says he was an accomplice to auto theft. When final judgment was handed down, he was charged with a felony and served his time. Even though 13 years have passed and his life is back on track, apartment communities are turning him away because of his record.

John with Apartment Find Felons of Texas specializes in helping those with a criminal history find a decent place to live. He says in order for a community to accept someone with a criminal past, they need to meet a certain criteria. John says is all depends on the community, and guidelines they have in place.

"They must stick to their policies. So they can't let one person in for a particular type of crime, and not let another one in or they'll be in violation of the federal discrimination law," John said.

But when January 1, 2016, rolls around, things could change.

"House Bill 15-10 recently passed this past session. Because that bill, now law, will limit the liability to some degree that property owners are forced to accept," said Texas Apartment Association president Ben Van Winkle.

Van Winkle says the bill will allow property owners to rent to non-violent felons, without being held negligent in some cases if that individual commits a crime on property.

"That's really something that's left to each management company to determine as they make their assessment on the risk they want to have," Van Winkle said.

But even when that bill goes into effect, there are no guarantees that any apartment complex will loosen their policies.

"I think it's almost impossible for them to go on their own. They really need the help of an apartment locator that specializes in criminal issues," John said. "Crime and time I can deal with. I can deal with violent crimes if they're old enough. I can deal with drug crimes if they're old enough. They have to be off parole for five years on some."

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