Washington "Fair Tenant Screening Act"

Recently, the Washington State legislature passed SB 6315 which affects the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.18 et seq.).

The changes to the law went into effect on June 7, 2012, and imposes new notice requirements on Washington residential landlords.  The new law requires that, prior to obtaining any information on a prospective tenant, the landlord first provide written or posted notice to the tenant of the following:

  1. The types of information that will be accessed to conduct the tenant screening;
  2. What criteria may result in a denial of the tenant’s application;
  3. The name and address of the consumer reporting agency (if applicable);
  4. The tenant’s right to obtain a free copy of the report in the event of a denial; and
  5. The tenant’s right to dispute the accuracy of information appearing in the consumer report.

The landlord will only be able to charge the prospective tenant for the costs associated with obtaining the screening report if the landlord has followed these notice requirements.  Additionally, if a landlord decides to take an adverse action relating to the tenant’s application, the tenant must first be informed in writing of both the nature of and reason for the action.  Some examples include: rejection of the application, approving the application subject to certain conditions, or requiring an increased security deposit.  In addition to this new writing requirement, the law also proscribes a specific format for providing the tenant with notice of the adverse action.  Failure to comply with the new written adverse action notice requirements or the new pre-screening notices may subject the landlord to civil liability of $100.00 per violation plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

If you have any questions about this new law and how it may impact your business, please feel free to contact Hamilton at hamilton@lawhg.net.