Part of our job as professional property managers is to stay up to date on all Seattle landlord tenant laws. You need to know your rights and you need to understand tenant rights. Today, we want to share some quick information about a new law that just went into effect on February 19, 2018.
Legal Rights of Renters and the Screening Process
The new law affects your screening process and the criteria you use to approve or deny tenants. In the city of Seattle, there’s now a ban on the use of criminal history by rental housing owners and apartment owners when you’re screening potential tenants. It is a broad law, and it says you are not allowed to use criminal history when deciding to accept or deny an applicant.
Sex Crimes as an Exception
There is one exception to this law, and that exception would be sex crimes. Even with that, there are rules you have to follow. An applicant with a sex crime history would have to have the crime occur when he or she was an adult. The applicant would have to be registered as a sex offender, and even then, you have to have a legitimate reason to deny the applicant.
Fines for Violating Apartment Renters Rights
This is an important law, and you need to take it seriously. Owners need to be aware that the first time fine is $11,000 if you don’t follow this law. That’s pretty serious, and the fines only increase if you violate it more than once. At Capstone Commercial, we are up to date with this law and its requirements, but we are concerned other property management companies and individual landlords aren’t aware of this change, and could get into trouble.
While this specific law only affects properties in the city of Seattle, Washington landlord laws and federal fair housing laws have adopted disparate impact rulings from the courts, and you need to be careful with how you handle criminal history in your screening process.
If you have questions about this or you are concerned about your screening process and its compliance with this law, please reach out to us at Capstone Commercial Real Estate Advisors. We would be happy to help with any of your Seattle property management needs.