Tens of thousands of people in Indiana have criminal records – and they live in fear that a prospective landlord will discover their pasts and deny them housing. Though the federal government prohibits housing discrimination, those protections only apply to discrimination related to race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation, familial status and disability). Indiana has none of its own state-level protections against discrimination for criminal histories, either – except when a person’s record has been expunged. This guide explains.
What to Do if You Have a Criminal Record but Need a New Place to Live
In the state of Indiana, prospective landlords aren’t allowed to discriminate against you for having a criminal record if you’ve had that record expunged.
To clarify, though, sometimes expungement in Indiana results in your record being erased; in other cases, your record remains but your convictions are marked as expunged.
What Indiana Law Says About Expunged Records and Discrimination
Indiana Code 35-38-9 says:
It is unlawful discrimination for any person to suspend; expel; refuse to employ; refuse to admit; refuse to grant or renew a license, permit or certificate necessary to engage in any activity, occupation or profession; or otherwise discriminate against any person because of a conviction or arrest record expunged or sealed under this chapter.
The key part for you is where the law says “otherwise discriminate against,” because that means if your record has been cleared through expungement, prospective landlords are prohibited from holding it against you.
But what if you haven’t had your record expunged?
If you haven’t had your record expunged, prospective landlords (and prospective employers) may hold it against you. In some cases, people with criminal histories are unable to find a good place to live because landlords – right or wrong – believe that they won’t make good tenants. Sadly, landlords are allowed to use a person’s criminal history to disqualify them from renting an apartment, condo, townhome or single-family home (or any other type of dwelling).
What Should You Do if You Know You’ll Need a New Rental?
If you know you’re going to need to rent a home in the future, it may be in your best interest to work with an Indiana expungement attorney who can clear your record before you start house-hunting. That’s because expungement can take a while (sometimes several months), and when your record has been expunged, prospective landlords aren’t allowed to hold it against you.
What’s the Expungement Process Like in Indiana?
Expungement clears your criminal record and says that the state of Indiana has forgiven you. But it’s not always a simple process, which is why many people choose to work with a criminal record clearing attorney.
Your attorney can fill out and file all your forms for you. They can also represent you in court if you’re entitled to a hearing. (Sometimes, when a person or agency involved in the expungement process objects to your expungement, you’re entitled to a hearing to explain why you deserve a clean slate.)
Although there’s never any guarantee that a judge will agree that you deserve an expungement, many people feel more comfortable working with an attorney who understands the petition process and how expungement works in Indiana. If that sounds like you, you may be better off working with an attorney than struggling to find the right paperwork, filling out and filing forms, and waiting for a judge’s decision on your case on your own.
Do You Need to Talk to an Indiana Expungement and Sealing Attorney?
If you’re ready for a fresh start, we may be able to help. Call us at 317-647-5476 or fill out the form below for a free consultation on expungement. We’re here to answer your questions and get you the fresh start you deserve.