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February 15, 2013

Fair Tenant Screening Act Update and Action Opportunities

Thank you for your action!

Tenants Union members’ action helped to move a section of the Fair Tenant Screening Act through committee and on to the next stage towards passing. The section that is moving forward would create vital protections for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Survivors deserve to be protected and to be able to access housing to escape their abusers. Keeping their protection orders off of tenant screening reports provides critical protection.

We are disappointed that protections for tenants who have been wrongfully evicted did not make it to the next step—but check our website and our Facebook page for updates about what we can do to continue to push for fair eviction reporting and affordable tenant screening reports.

Actions you can take:

  1. Send a note to your legislators telling them to vote for the Fair Tenant Screening Act because survivors deserve protection and access to housing.
  2. Visit the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance’s website for a link to send a thank you note to the bills’ sponsors, Representative Stanford and Senator Hobbs.

Here’s the wonky details:

Substitute Senate Bill 5568/Hobbs

The bill passed the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee by a vote of 6 to 1. SSB 5568, which prevents tenant screening companies from reporting a tenant’s status as a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking was amended in the following manner:

1) The “cause of action” section was removed. This would have allowed for a tenant to sue their landlord for actual damages if the law was violated. However, a screening company that violated the law could still be sued.

2) The bill now reads that a tenant screening company cannot “knowingly” disclose the information.

3) The tenant can self-disclose their status as a survivor.

4) The bill does not take effect until January 2014.

Substitute House Bill 1529/Stanford

The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee by a voice vote of 8 to 5
Representative Roger Goodman (45th) introduced an amendment that removed all language addressing how evictions are reported by tenant screening companies. However, SHB 1529 will still prohibit tenant screening companies from reporting that a tenant is a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.