6 Things You Need to Know about Seattle's Fair Chance Housing Law

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News ,

The City of Seattle’s Fair Chance Housing ordinance took effect Monday, February 19, 2018. 

With the city of Seattle limts, the use of arrest records, criminal conviction records and/or criminal history in tenant screening is prohibited, except for information contained in a local, state or national sex offender registry. 

This is a huge shift in longstanding policy and will take some getting used to as new residents apply to rent apartments in teh City of Seattle.  

Here are six things you need to know now that the law is in effect:    
 

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The law applies to third parties, including screening providers and prohibits screening providers from inquiring about or obtaining arrest records, criminal conviction records or criminal history in tenant screening.   

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The law applies to third parties, including screening providers and prohibits screening providers from inquiring about or obtaining arrest records, criminal conviction records or criminal history in tenant screening.  

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The law requires that specific information be included on the application:

[Housing Provider] is prohibited from requiring disclosure, asking about, rejecting an applicant, or taking adverse action based on any arrest record, conviction record, or criminal history, except for sex offender registry information of applicants or tenants convicted as an adult for crime(s) requiring registration on a local, state or national sex offender registry, and subject to the exclusions and legal requirements in Section 14.09.115.  
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The law permits housing providers to ask on the application whether the applicant is required to register as a sex offender as a result of an adult conviction. 

Image result for 5 image Prior to denying any applicant because of their appearance on a sex offender registry, the housing provider must determine whether a legitimate reason exists to take adverse action based on the following six factors:
  • The nature and severity of the conviction;
  • The number and types of convictions;
  • The time that has elapsed since the date of conviction;
  • Age of the individual at the time of conviction;
  • Evidence of good tenant history before and/or after the conviction occurred; and
  • Any supplemental information related to the individual’s rehabilitation, good conduct, and additional facts or explanations provided by the individual, if the individual chooses to do so.
For purposes of determining whether a legitimate business reason exists review of conviction information related to the offenses appearing on the sex offender registry is permitted.
 Image result for 6 image Operators of federally assisted housing are excluded from this law, where federal laws require exclusion of individuals with a particular criminal history. 

 
For more information about Fair Chance Housing, review our summary of the law here and an updated summary here

The City of Seattle has also posted the Final Rules and Frequently Asked Questions.
 
Join us February 23, 2018 for Fair Housing Friday – Criminal Records by registering below. 

Register for Fair Housing Friday