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Seattle's Fair Chance Housing Ordinance Removes Landlords Ability to Use Criminal Records in Rental Decisions

November 25, 2019

Seattle Continues it's Blitz of Bold Tenant Protections
The City of Seattle, in a series of bold regulations against property owners, has gotten the State Supreme Court to support their latest ordinance - no more using criminal records.

The justification used by the city is that the ordinance will help combat against a landlord “subconscious bias”.
Known as the “Fair Chance Housing Ordinance” it, apart from rare exceptions, denies landlords and tenant screening services the ability to take criminal histories into account for a potential tenant.

Specifically stating that it’s unlawful to “require disclosure, inquire about, or take an adverse action against a prospective occupant, a tenant, or a member of their household, based on any arrest record, conviction record, or criminal history.”

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This will severely constrain a landlord from being able to make an educated decision not only for their property, but also for the personal safety of those who live in the area of their rental.



The ruling, if upheld in the United State Supreme Court, would require landlords to prove they have a “legitimate business reason” for refusing to rent to someone even if they’re a registered sex offender.
Obviously this is troublesome for landlords throughout the State of Washington as it could likely set a precedent for other cities and counties, many of which have already targeted property owners rights.



What’s more, the law meant to protect housing, will almost certainly bring about it’s decline, as more and more landowners are selling as the burden of renting increases.

While there may still be future appeals our advice to Seattle landlords is to treat the new ordinances as effective immediately.
View "Fair Chance Housing" official court file

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LandlordSolutions does not provide legal advice. The information we provide is general information for landlords. If you need legal advice or have questions about the application of the law in a particular matter, you should consult a lawyer.

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