Wednesday, August 9, 2017

City Council approves legislation to prevent landlords from considering applicants’ criminal records





5/1/18: As an update to this info, as we'd suspected, The Rental Housing Association of Washington says it filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court Tuesday.  The complaint alleges the city has violated property owners' due process and free speech rights. It says landowners have a right to select their tenants and the ordinance is burdensome and unreasonable.



Landlords will be limited in screening tenants based on criminal records, under an ordinance the Seattle City Council approved in August.  When taking applications, they will be barred from asking about records. And in choosing tenants, they will be barred from rejecting people due to their records.


The only people who may be denied rental housing will be those listed on sex-offender registries because of adult convictions, and landlords denying housing to such people will still need to demonstrate a legitimate business reason for doing so.


Landlords renting part of their own homes and sharing a kitchen or bathroom with a tenant will be exempt, as will primary leaseholders given the authority by landlords to choose roommates.

In most states including Washington. landlord responsibilities include protection of their tenants and impose a legal duty on the landlord to take steps to protect their tenants from criminal activity. The best means to reduce the likelihood of being held responsible for the criminal acts of tenants is to perform a thorough credit, background and criminal screening of all applicants when renting out a property. As a result of this conflict of purposes, we suspect this legislation may face legal challenges.


http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seattle-set-to-prevent-landlords-from-considering-applicants-criminal-records/

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