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Seattle, WA Criminal Record Restriction Ordinance “Fair Chance Housing”

The City of Seattle, WA passed an Ordinance restricting the use of criminal records in the tenant screening process.  The ordinance is effective on Monday, February 19th 2018.

Under the new ordinance, housing providers/landlords will be required to provide notice of the law to perspective tenants along with their rental applications.  Also, it will be an unfair practice for persons to require disclosure, inquire about, or take adverse action based on:

  • Arrest record
  • Criminal record
  • Criminal history (including pending charges, juvenile records, deferred sentence, and dismissals).

There are also special provisions pertaining to “Registry Information” which means Sex Offender Registry information. According to the new ordinance, it appears Landlords/housing providers will not be ale to carry out adverse action based on registry information for a perspective adult tenant, unless the landlord/housing provider has a “legitimate business reason” for doing so.  The legitimate business reason would be demonstrating a nexus between the policy/practice and resident safety and/or protecting property and considering certain specific factors found in the ordinance.

The exclusions found in the law include:

  • Federally assisted housing subject to federal regulations that require denial of tenancy based on criminal history
  • Accessory dwelling unit or detached accessory dwelling unit where owner maintains permanent residence on same lot
  • Rental housing where owner occupies part of the unit.
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