Seattle Housing Law Spotlights Need for Landlords to Work with Tenant…

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Tenant Screening USA

Laws change very quickly and in light of all the activity in Seattle landlords across the country should take note and work with a professional tenant screening agency.

In Seattle a recent law regarding housing, the Fair Chance Housing Act, continues to create confusion and concern as landlords and property managers challenge fairness of such a law and the impact it has on the ability to choose tenants. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com, opines: “The Fair Chance Housing Act does not allow landlords or property managers to check a potential tenants criminal history and, with this significant change in tenant screening, should push all landlords and property managers to work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency in order to stay fully compliant with law.”

The Fair Chance Housing Act in Seattle, Washington, is being challenged by landlords and property managers on a variety of grounds.

From MHPMag.com (Jan 24, 19):

But an unprecedented new city law forbidding landlords from checking into potential renters’ criminal past—is very much in dispute and setting up a closely-watched court battle.

Landlords argue their free speech, property rights and possibly their safety is being jeopardized by a law that forces them to close their eyes to relevant public information about possible tenants. They’re backed by landlord groups and background screeners who call the ordinance a perilous precedent. (1)

A primary responsibility of the tenant check is risk mitigation. It is a landlord’s responsibility to maintain protections on person and property as they vet new tenants.

Almeida adds: “Protection of existing long-term tenants, protection of property, and protection of community are key considerations made during the vetting process of new tenants. Subsequently, a tenant check becomes a critical tool in the vetting process.”

But are such measures justified? With evictions and potential homelessness on the rise it may be something to consider.

From SeattleWeekly.com (Jan 16, 19):

As Seattle’s median income has continued to rise in recent years, high-rent burdens have plagued lower-income renters, some of whom are falling behind on rent. A September 2018 report by the Seattle Women’s Commission and the Housing Justice Project of the King County Bar Association showed that 86.5 percent of the nearly 1,500 Seattle residents who faced eviction proceedings in 2017 had failed to pay their rent. The study, Losing Home: The Human Cost of Eviction in Seattle, found that eviction filings disproportionately affect people of color, with women more likely to face eviction for small sums of back rent amounting to $100 or less. And once renters experience eviction, they can be slapped with legal fees, disqualified from rental-assistance programs, and catapulted into homelessness. (2)

Ultimately laws will continue to change and evolve. Evictions and criminal records history are key records utilized in tenant screening, and changes to their use and availability will continue to challenge landlords and property managers.

Almeida concludes: “Laws change very quickly and in light of all the activity in Seattle landlords across the country should take note and work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency in order to stay fully compliant with law.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening agency with highly trained investigators well versed in the legal and lawful use of criminal history reports, and all public record reports, as part of a complete tenant check.

Notes:
(1)    mhpmag.com/2019/01/does-the-seattle-housing-law-forbidding-landlords-from-checking-tenants-criminal-history-go-too-far/
(2)    seattleweekly.com/news/seattle-set-to-propose-eviction-reform/

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