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Marc
Marc, Attorney at Law
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 124
Experience:  Experienced Attorney
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I live at Cambridge park Apts in springfield,mo.i have

Customer Question

I live at Cambridge park Apts in springfield,mo.i have resided here for 9 years,rent always paid before due date.i Have a friend who stays with me off and on.His mailing address and where he he actually resides a lot of times.My leasing office wanted him on the lease.So he filled out all of the paperwork.over 2 years ago he got a misdemeanor.His probation is up in January.He is not a felon or a convict or criminal.2 days ago I received a one and final notice from the leasing agent that says he has to vacate my apt.And will be prosecuted if he ever sets foot on the property.He is not allowed to even come here to visit.I want to put him on the lease,I have even offered to pay a bit more for him to reside here.Its a simple misdemeanor,not a felony.He has never caused any problems when he is here.Is there anything I can do so he can reside here.Do they have a reason to keep him off the property.I need help.I am on disability and need him here because of my disabilities.I need a quick response on this as the holidays are upon us and his family is coming to my home.I have a lady that is coming in to cook the meal.I really need help and advice .I was told a person can not be refused residence for misdemeanors. What rights do I have after 9 years here.he has until noon tomorrow to get off the property...For what reason? she says he has a misdemeanor on his record.Please help me
JA: What state is the property located in? And has anyone consulted a local attorney about this?
Customer: in Springfield MO.And I haven't contacted an attorney until I know my rights
JA: What are the terms of the lease? Any issues related to maintenance or upkeep?
Customer: I lease year to year.My lease is not up until May.There is not damage or repairs needed.I have ocd...I keep my apt immaculate.No maintenance or upkeep issues
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: not that I can think of
Submitted: 20 days ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Marc replied 20 days ago.

Hello. My name is Marc. I'm a licensed attorney and I will be happy to assist you with this problem. I can certainly understand how anxious you feel about this egregiously unfair treatment from your landlord. The short answer is the landlord can legally deny leases to those with criminal convictions - whether misdemeanors or felonies. There is no MO or federal law that specifically prohibits landlords from denying leases on the basis of criminal history.

But, that's not the end of it. It could be that the landlord is discriminating against you and/or your friend and is simply using his conviction as a pretext to deny him. While it is generally legal to discriminate on the basis of a criminal history, it is illegal under MO and federal housing laws for a landlord to discriminate based on age, sexual orientation, race, disability, etc...

In your case, I wonder what else the landlord is trying to accomplish by denying your friend. Perhaps he wants you to move out as well for any of the reasons above? As you observed yourself, it makes no business sense for the landlord to deny your friend, given how you've been a loyal tenant in good standing and are prepared to pay increased rent for your friend.

When considering whether to rent to someone with a criminal history, a landlord should consider how long ago the crime occurred, any extenuating circumstances surrounding the arrest or conviction, whether the crime has any relevance towards the tenant’s ability to be a good renter, and any evidence of rehabilitation.

In your case, the crime was not serious and your friend's probation is almost complete. Also, there is no indication that the rent won't be paid. Therefore, the misdemeanor should not suffice as a reason for denial.

So what do you do now? First of all, there should be nothing preventing him from staying as a guest for the time being. Even if he's not on the lease, you are still entitled to have guests stay with you, after all. Next, ask the landlord if your friend can provide any written references - as to character, employment, honesty, etc. Some landlords will take this into consideration. Keep in mind that the landlord might simply want to "cover his ass" against the possibility of any future lawsuits. For instance, if your friend wound up assaulting another resident, the resident could sue the landlord for negligence, based on having accepted a violent criminal into the property. Clearly, this is not the case with your friend, however. So, see if you can allay your landlord's concerns in this regard with letters of reference or anything else (perhaps even a letter from his probation officer).

Another less desirable route would be to sue the landlord based upon the above-discussed discrimination. The landlord would have the burden of showing that it treats all prospective tenants with the same harsh rule - not just your friend. Before doing so, however, consider writing a strongly-worded letter putting the landlord on notice that you believe you and your friend are being discriminated against and that you don't believe denial of his tenancy has anything to do with his misdemeanor. Note: This should be your second approach AFTER you've tried the above-discussed offer of references.

I hope this will resolve quickly and favorably for you. And I hope you're able to enjoy the holiday. Again - I discern no legal basis for him to literally be removed and banned from the property tomorrow.

I hope my answer has provided you with more insight as to your issues and options. If so, please be sure to rate my answer, since that is the only way I can receive credit.

Kind regards,

Marc

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