Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Landlords sue Seattle over tenant history ordinance

SEATTLE — A landlord group has sued the city of Seattle over an ordinance passed in August that prohibits them from making rental decisions based on a tenant’s criminal background.

The Rental Housing Association of Washington says it filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court Tuesday.

The complaint alleges the city has violated property owners’ due process and free speech rights. It says landowners have a right to select their tenants and the ordinance is burdensome and unreasonable.

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved the “fair chance housing” ordinance in August as a way to help formerly incarcerated people find housing.

The ordinance prohibits landlords from screening a tenant based on arrests or convictions. They’re also not allowed to ask about or consider arrests that didn’t lead to a conviction. The law doesn’t apply to adult sex offenders.

Supporters said landlords can still screen tenants based on other factors, such as employment and credit scores.

The city attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a message Tuesday.