Evans, Douglas N. and Jeremy R. Porter (2014). Criminal History and Landlord Rental Decisions: A New York Quasi-experimental Study. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 11(1): 21-42.
To determine the effect of a criminal conviction on landlord decisions to consider prospective tenants and the extent to which landlord responses vary based on a prospective tenant’s offense type, researchers used a quasi-experimental audit design involving matched pairs of “testers” posing as prospective tenants who called landlords across New York State to inquire about the possibility of renting a residence. Criminal conviction type was manipulated among equally eligible testers posing as non-offenders (control group) or as having one of three types of prior conviction: child molestation, statutory rape, or drug trafficking (quasi-experimental groups).
Analyses indicated that landlords were significantly less willing to consider prospective tenants with a criminal conviction, particularly for child molestation, although this effect was more strongly apparent with male testers. The stigma associated with a child molestation conviction greatly impacts housing outcomes, but landlord characteristics and the sex of prospective tenants influence landlord decisions. The study has important implications for offender reentry and policies that should address this issue.