An Act To Enact the Maine Fair Chance Housing Act
Sec. 1. 5 MRSA §4611, as amended by PL 2011, c. 613, §18 and affected by §29, is further amended to read:
§ 4611. Complaint
Any aggrieved person, or any employee of the commission, may file a complaint under oath with the commission stating the facts concerning the alleged discrimination, except that a complaint must be filed with the commission not more than 300 days after the alleged act of unlawful discrimination. In addition, any person may file a complaint pursuant to section 4632 or section 4635.
Sec. 2. 5 MRSA §4635 is enacted to read:
§ 4635. Use of criminal history information
A person aggrieved by a current or prospective housing provider's violation of section 4714 may file a complaint with the commission. The commission shall investigate and review such complaints, as described in section 4612, and shall keep a record of all complaints, reports of problems or concerns and suggestions regarding the implementation, compliance and effect of chapter 337-D. The commission also shall conduct periodic reviews with private housing providers to assess compliance with that chapter.
The commission shall collect the fine in a civil action and forward it to the Treasurer of State for deposit to the General Fund.
Sec. 3. 5 MRSA c. 337-D is enacted to read:
MAINE FAIR CHANCE HOUSING ACT
§ 4711. Short title
This chapter may be known and cited as "the Maine Fair Chance Housing Act."
§ 4712. Declaration of policy
It is the declared public policy of the State to ensure that equitable access to safe, decent and affordable housing extends to all residents of the State, including individuals involved in the criminal justice system and their families.
§ 4713. Definitions
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
§ 4714. Limitations on use and disclosure of criminal history information
§ 4715. Violation by a private housing provider
§ 4716. Violation by a public housing provider
An individual who is aggrieved by a violation of section 4714 by the State or a political subdivision may file a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission pursuant to section 4635, but such public housing providers are not subject to civil fines pursuant to that section. An individual may not bring a civil action for a violation of this chapter against the State or a political subdivision.
§ 4717. Application
The provisions of this chapter apply to all housing providers notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, except to the extent the other provision of law contains additional limitations on the consideration of criminal history information of applicants for housing.
This bill establishes the Maine Fair Chance Housing Act, the purpose of which is to ensure that a person is not denied housing based solely on the existence of a history of criminal convictions. This bill prohibits a housing provider from considering an applicant’s criminal history until after the housing provider determines that the applicant meets all other qualifications for tenancy.
A person who is aggrieved by a violation of the Maine Fair Chance Housing Act by a housing provider may file a grievance with the Maine Human Rights Commission and, if it is a violation by a private housing provider, may bring a civil action in court.