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New Seattle Ordinance

The City of Seattle has a new municipal code, prohibiting the use of criminal history for tenant screening purposes except under very specific circumstances. The law applies to most rental housing located within the city limits – with very limited exceptions – and is effective February 19, 2018.

The ordinance states that it is an unfair practice for any “person” (broadly defined to include landlords/property managers and their agents) to, among other things, “require disclosure, inquire about, or take an adverse action against a prospective occupant, a tenant or a member of their household, based on any arrest record, conviction record, or criminal history, except for information pursuant to subsection 14.09.025.A.3 [(sex offender registry information)] and subject to the exclusions” set out in the ordinance. The exclusions section states that certain aspects of the ordinance do not apply to:

· Adverse action taken by landlords of federally assisted housing subject to federal regulations that require denial of tenancy, including but not limited to when any member of the household is subject to a lifetime sex offender registration requirement and/or convicted of manufacture or production of methamphetamine on the premises of federally assisted housing.

· The renting, subrenting, leasing or subleasing of a single family dwelling unit in which the owner or subleasing tenant or subrenting tenant occupy part of the single family dwelling unit.

· The renting, subrenting, leasing or subleasing of an accessory dwelling unit or detached accessory dwelling unit wherein the owner or person entitled to possession thereof maintains a permanent residence, home or abode on the same lot.