It has recently come to our attention that the Attorney General of Washington has been conducting fair housing testing on the use of criminal records in tenant screening. As far as we know, the Attorney General’s investigation is directed against properties and management companies whose advertising states that applicants with any prior felony will be rejected. At this time we do not know whether the Attorney General is testing any other recommendations made in the April 4, 2016 HUD Guidance. The Attorney General is taking very aggressive enforcement actions including threatening lawsuits and demanding the payment of very significant monetary penalties.
WMFHA recommends that you immediately review your tenant screening policies and all advertising, specifically your policies and advertising that mention criminal history as a basis for denial. We also suggest you read or re-read the NAA White Paper we distributed on May 4, 2016. You can find the White Paper here. NAA has also recorded a webinar on criminal screening policies. You can find a link to the webinar here. (NAA login is required for both the White Paper and Webinar.) If you cannot access the NAA White Paper on the Use of Criminal Records in Tenant Screening, please contact Brett Waller at the WMFHA office and he will provide you with a copy.
If you have any questions, please contact Brett Waller by email or by telephone at (425) 656-9077.