Seattle City Council approves Fair Chance Housing

On Monday, August 14, 2017, the Seattle City Council approved The Fair Chance Housing Ordinance. This legislation prohibits landlords, who are renting property in the city of Seattle, from denying an applicant based on a criminal conviction. Landlords who share a kitchen or bathroom with their tenants, or that rent out an accessory dwelling unit are exempt. Small landlords who manage four units or fewer would also be exempted from the law, and the law would not apply to sex offenders who committed their crimes as adults. In addition, landlords are prohibited from requiring disclosure, asking about, rejecting an applicant, or taking an adverse action based on conviction records, except for when based on registry information. Landlords may not create adverse action based on registry information of a prospective applicant unless the landlord has a legitimate business reason for taking such action.

According to Herbold, landlords will still be able to screen applicants based on employment, credit scores, income ratios, or other criteria to ensure people will be good tenants.  However, they will be unable to use criminal history when considering applicants, something no study has shown affects a person’s ability to successfully be a good neighbor or tenant.

The legislation will not go into effect for 150 days after signing in order to support a new Fair Housing Home Program in which the City will help landlords learn how they can implement practices that will affirmatively further fair housing by reducing racial and other biases in tenant selection.


The Seattle Medium

City of Seattle – Fair Chance Housing legislation

Seattle Times – Criminal histories virtually off-limits




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