Crime record is cause for denial of rental
I'm applying for a rental unit. But I have a minor criminal history and I'm finding that I'm encountering some roadblocks. Is this (illegal) discrimination? Can they deny me consideration for a rental just because I have a criminal history?
Answer: Unfortunately, the answer from state and federal officials to your first question is "no" and "yes" to your second.
The state's Landlord-Tenant Code does not address this situation, according to Stephen Levins, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection.
"I am unaware of any statutory provisions that would preclude a landlord from refusing to rent to someone with a criminal conviction," he said.
Under the Hawaii Constitution, "No person shall be denied the enjoyment of civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex or ancestry."
Past criminal activity is not specified.
Although there is some protection given to a person with a criminal background when it comes to employment, taking into account a criminal history is "not prohibited discrimination in housing," said William Hoshijo, executive director of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission.
But even in employment, it's a "limited" protection, he said.
Criminal history is "permissible grounds to deny someone" a rental, so long as "the landlord is doing that equally across the board, consistently," said Jelani Madaraka, lead civil rights analyst with the local office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"As a general rule, criminal history would be a valid reason to deny someone housing," he said.
To the Asian youth who was terrorizing a mama-san on June 10 at Waipio Costco. He was very upset when he felt the woman took "his" parking space. He continually beeped his horn at this woman without a response. Although there were two other cars leaving in the general area, he chose to get out of his car to firmly rap on her closed window to scream at her for taking "his" space and that she needed to move. She backed her car out and I stopped her to tell her that I was leaving and she could have my space, but she was visibly shaking and said she needed to leave. Everyone around who witnessed the event just shook their heads at the audacity and disrespect shown by this youth. After she left, he parked his car but did not get out until after I left. Is there a law regarding acts of road rage? -- J.J.
There is no specific "road rage" law, according to the Honolulu Police Department.
However, in a case like this, possible charges could include threatening, harassment or disorderly conduct.
If you feel a person is acting "menacing," you should call 911.
But you, or any other bystander, need to provide details on what was said and done, how it was said, etc., AND be willing to act as witnesses, HPD said.
Got a question or complaint?
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