Former inmate feels scammed in Boise rental market

BOISE — If you’re in the market to rent or buy in the Treasure Valley, then you probably already know housing is scarce and expensive.

One man is having an especially tough time finding a place to live because of the market and his criminal past.

"You know, they don’t have to rent to felons, but it’s discrimination I think," says Charles Parker of Garden City. "I can understand not renting to violent offenders or sex offenders or things of that nature but a person that, you know a DUI or drug charge or whatever, it ain’t right."

Parker served eight months for a felony drug-related charge.

He is renting a trailer in Garden City temporarily through a friend but says the past four months looking for a Treasure Valley rental has been a nightmare.

So far Parker has spent $1,200 on rental application fees only to be denied repeatedly.

"They should tell you that they are not going to rent to you if you are a felon," says Parker.

According to the Idaho Apartment Association, application fees, which range from $30 to $70, go toward criminal and credit background checks.

Paul Smith, the Executive Director of the Idaho Apartment Association, says under Idaho law it’s not discriminatory to deny applicants because of criminal history, but landlords should have rental criteria applicants can review so they don’t waste time or money.

But Parker says that hasn’t been his experience.

Each time he speaks with a property management company, Parker says he is told to fill out an application and then corporate will have the final say.

"I’m like, why can’t you tell me now," says Parker.

“Landlords can be hesitant to take a chance on applicants with criminal history because of the high recidivism rate and the risk to revenue, property or neighbors if a renter reoffends,” says Smith. “However, some applicants with past issues turn out to be great renters, so it is important for landlords to understand how to reduce risk enough to give certain applicants a second chance.”

"I just want it to be easier for other people, I don’t want them to have to go through what I went through," says Parker.

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