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Amber E.
Amber E., Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1464
Experience:  Experienced practitioner in family law, including divorce, custody, and domestic violence cases.
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How can a woman with mental health isssues and 2 felonies (both

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How can a woman with mental health isssues and 2 felonies (both non violent, non sex or drug related) be approved for an apartment? She was granted a temporary restraining order against her ex-boyfriend but her new landlord doesn't know her as well as the ex-boyfriend and insists on having him do handyman work on her place and assumes the woman is lying about the ex's harassment. She hasn't served the paperwork yet because she thought maybe it would be less stressful for her just to move, but she got denied once so far for an apt. So how could she get into an apartment? Her income is very low also.
To answer your question, landlords decide the standards they use to determine who they will or won't rent their apartments to. These standards vary from one landlord to the next. For example, some landlords require an extensive background check, while others only require a deposit. And there is everything in between.

Here, you mention that the applicant has two felonies, but both are non-violent and non-drug related. It is important to understand that mental health problems won't show up in a background search, only criminal activity will (assuming that it has not been expunged). Landlords who do conduct criminal background searches usually are looking for things such as drug charges or violent offenses. A mental health problem, by itself, is not something that a landlord would necessarily be able to screen for; moreover, if the condition is disabling, then the landlord may not be able to discriminate against the applicant on that basis alone without risk of lawsuit.

You also mention that she was granted a temporary restraining order against her ex-boyfriend. The landlord should respect the order, but frankly it is not his responsibility. Even if the landlord gave the ex permission to do work on her place, she has every right to call the police and have the ex arrested for violating the order. The ex has to know that if he goes there he is in violation and subject to arrest and prosecution.

However, if he has not yet been served, then the order is not effective against him yet. Without knowing all the particulars, it is impossible to say whether or not she should have him served at this time or find some place else to stay. That is a decision that only she can make based on her circumstances, her knowledge of him and their relationship - whether she can move, whether it is cost efficient to do so, whether he will react violently, whether he will obey the order and leave her alone, etc etc etc. Only she knows the answers to these questions. She must consider what SHE wants to do based on that knowledge and act accordingly, doing what is best for her and what will make her feel safe.

Lastly, you asked about her getting a new apartment. Unfortunately, there is nothing to make a landlord rent to her. However, if she is low income, then she may qualify for public housing/public housing assistance. I would recommend that she contact her local HUD representative for housing assistance. And, contact her local domestic abuse center for help with services for victims.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

She read online that she could only get public housing if she had no felonies in the past 5 yrs. Is this true? Her most recent one was about 3 yrs ago.

And prospective tenants might possibly assume that she has a mental illness by the fact that she is on SSI (disability) and she doesn't show any visible signs of physical disability (although she does have arthritis that comes and goes and neck and back pain that might not be apparent at first meeting.)


And finally, what are considered good reasons for moving, for when she is filling out the rental applications? Would saying that she is leaving her present place because of ex-boyfriend's harassment be frowned upon?


Thank you so much for your comments so far....Smile

No, there is no law that she can have "no felonies" within five years. With the exception of lifetime registered sex offenders and those convicted for producing methamphetamine in federally subsidized housing, each public housing authority is allowed to evaluate applicants on a case-by-case basis. Typically, what they will be looking for is any criminal history of violence against another person or property and drug-related activity.

Good reasons for moving might include termination of the old lease (because the old lease is up), convenience (relocation to be closer to family or friends, to the city or parks, better view), safety (if the new apartment is safer or in a safer location), and also word of mouth (if the new apartment complex has a better reputation). Saying that she is leaving because of a harassing boyfriend could red flag the landlord to think that she and her ex will be a problem. Though they shouldn't, landlords sometimes do discriminate against victims of domestic violence, because they don't want to subject other tenants to potential conflicts between the two.

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