Whose Choice Is It?

And whose property is it?

A new law being seriously considered by lawmakers in New York City could strip landlords of the ability to perform criminal background checks on prospective tenants.

Because landlords shouldn’t be able to control who rents their property, shouldn’t be able to protect the interests of their existing tenants—who have, by dint of their rent agreements, have some property of their own in the landlord’s buildings.

This law means it’s city government property; landlords possess the buildings only in fee from the city lords.

Republican Councilwoman Inna Vernikov has the right of it:

A bill which would prohibit landlords from conducting criminal background checks of potential tenants. Murdered someone? Beat up your girlfriend? Robbed? Stabbed your neighbor? No problem. Come live among us!

Certainly felons, even violent felons, shouldn’t be blanketly denied a second chance, shouldn’t be blanketly denied an opportunity to demonstrate that they’ve rehabilitated themselves, shouldn’t be blanketly denied an opportunity at redemption.

But that should be the choice of the property owner, the landlord; it cannot be, legitimately, a choice forced upon the property owner, in a one-size-fits-all diktat by the Lords of the city.

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