How Are You Handling Your Tenant Screening?
There are several new changes in Tenant Screening within the City of Seattle this year. I’d like to talk to you about two of them that affect our Seattle Housing Providers right now. As many of you know, the First in Time Ordinance has been struck down and Fair Chance Housing is now in place. Let’s look at how these ordinances affect tenant screening and selection as we move into this busy rental season.
First in time
Over the past year, housing providers in Seattle have had to offer tenancy to the first qualified applicant based on the receipt of that application. Thanks to the hard work of RHAWA and Pacific Legal, that law has been overturned and now housing providers can offer tenancy to whomever they wish and have more freedom to work with tenants on move-in dates and taking a chance on someone who might not otherwise qualify. While you will still need to use our Application for Tenancy (Seattle), this restriction has ended. However, you will notice that some of the forms for Seattle have changed. This has to do with another area that is really affecting screening.
Fair Chance Housing
Last summer, the city of Seattle became the first city in the nation to pass legislation banning the use of criminal arrest and conviction records when considering an applicant for rental housing. Seattle housing providers now must adjust their tenant screening criteria and practices to comply with the ordinance. Tenant screening criteria, required to be included in all advertisements for rental vacancies, can not include any policy or practice that automatically or categorically excludes all individuals with any arrest record, conviction record, or criminal history. This also means that you need to use Application for Tenancy (Seattle) and Adverse Action Form (Seattle).
The only criminal conviction still allowed to be considered as a reason for denial are sexual offense convictions which occurred when the perpetrator was an adult, and which require that individual to register as a sex offender for life on a local, state, or national registry.
Seattle is keeping us busy, but housing providers outside Seattle are not exempt from new changes that are being implemented throughout the Puget Sound region and throughout Washington. Keep checking Current, Connections, and our Blog to stay up-to-date on the latest changes.