Can a landlord refuse to rent to me because I was convicted of a crime?
Maybe. It depends on what the crime was and how long ago it was. It also depends on the kind of housing.
Some crimes can be sealed or expunged. If they are, you would not have to tell the landlord that you were ever convicted. Check our page about Sealing or Expunging Your Criminal Record in Vermont to see if your conviction is for a crime that can be sealed or expunged. If so or if you are not sure, we may be able to help. Fill out our form and we will call you back.
If you cannot get your criminal record sealed or expunged, whether the landlord can refuse to rent to you depends on the kind of housing.
Public or subsidized housing
Is the rent paid partly by the government or an agency? Is the housing subsidized?
A Public Housing Authority must refuse to rent to you if:
- You are on a lifetime sex offender registry.
- You were convicted of making methamphetamine in federally-assisted housing.
- A household member is currently using illegal drugs.
- You were evicted in the last three years from federally-assisted housing because of “drug-related criminal activity” unless there has been a change in circumstances. Contact us if you need help figuring out whether you might qualify.
A landlord who rents units in a building that is subsidized by the government cannot refuse to rent to you simply because you have a criminal record. The landlord must consider:
- Was the crime minor? Was it a long time ago? Have you changed since then?
- If the crime was minor and a long time ago or when you were much younger, the landlord must consider these factors before making a decision. Tell the landlord why you would be a good tenant even with your record.
- Was the conviction for making or distributing illegal drugs?
- If yes, it is usually OK for the landlord to refuse to rent to you, and the landlord can evict you. Contact us if you think the landlord is using the conviction to discriminate against you because of your race or other illegal reason. We may be able to help. Fill out our form and we will call you back.
If you think a landlord has violated any of these rules, you have the right to disagree with the decision. Ask for an informal hearing. You can use this form letter.
Are you applying for or living in private housing?
- A private landlord can refuse to rent to you or can evict you because you have been convicted of a crime. But the landlord has to treat everyone the same.
- Contact us if you think the landlord is not treating everyone the same. We may be able to help. Fill out our form and we will call you back.
All landlords must treat everyone with a criminal record the same. A landlord who rents to white people with criminal records but not to black or Hispanic people with criminal records may be unlawfully discriminating. We may be able to help. Fill out our form and we will call you back.