Op-Ed | New York renters could live next to criminals if Intro. 632 is passed

Closeup of red, white for rent sign attached, hanging on wooden apartment, house, home, building door with glass windows
Photo via Getty Images
Photo via Getty Images

While cashless bail and repeat offenders rule our streets, the City Council wants to force potentially dangerous criminals into the homes of law-abiding New Yorkers, including those looking to rent out their property. A bill called Intro. 632 would prohibit landlords from running criminal background checks on those applying to rent, buy or sublease apartments, effectively masking any potential danger some evicted felons bring with them.

Yes, that includes murderers! If the bill passes, it would compromise the safety of New Yorkers as other tenants can end up living next door to serious criminals. The city would be stripping landlords of the ability to determine who they allow to live on their property, a right they should legally have. Landlords should be allowed to decide if a murderer can rent an apartment next to a family with five young children. I understand that might be a hard pill for some to swallow, but for most people, it is what we call common sense.

I believe in second chances and would love to support a bill that prevents landlords from discriminating against those with a cleared record, especially with minor and non-violent offenses. However, this bill is not about second chances, it is about blindfolding landlords and law-abiding tenants by not allowing them to vet who moves in next door. This bill will disproportionately harm middle-class families, especially in black and brown communities many of whom make a living by renting out their homes. No one should ever be forced to make the hard choice between safety and economic stability.

Our city is in desperate need of an economic revival and increased safety. The intentions of this bill may come from a good place, but the outcome is going to be disastrous for New Yorkers. To not even allow a landlord the option, the opportunity, to see what kind of crime somebody has committed in the past is completely unreasonable and all it does is it puts the lives and safety of law-abiding citizens in danger. Instead of economic growth, the housing market will take another hit, one that we can no longer endure. Our politicians are tasked with creating common-sense policies that improve our city for everyone, not outlandish theoretical ideas that will never work in practice and create great harm for our citizens. I hope to work with my colleagues on a revised version that will provide past offenders with a real second chance, while at the same time upholding our promise to protect the people of our great city.