Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Rental Housing industry group files legal challenge to City Council Legislation.

As an update to an earlier story from last fall in which the City Council passed legislation limiting Landlords from screening tenants based on criminal records, 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.

RD House is a member of the Rental Housing Association of Washington.

More about the earlier passed legislation:
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.

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 suspected this legislation would face legal challenges.  We will update this story as it develops.

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