This section explores the main factors that come into consideration in tenant screening:
- Screening Fees
- Credit History
- Rental History
- Criminal Records
- Employment & Income
- Social Security Number
- Discrimination in Tenant Screening
- Screening Protections for Survivors of Violence
In general, landlords are looking for tenants who will be able to pay rent consistently, who will treat their units with care, and who will be trouble-free neighbors. Every landlord has their own set of requirements for the tenants who live in their units, and go about collecting that information in a variety of ways. Landlords can use whatever screening criteria they desire, as long as they are applying these criteria in a non-discriminatory manner. If they ask a question of one type of renter, they must uniformly ask it of all renters who apply to live in their units in order to not be discriminatory. Any tenant that is denied tenancy from a screening report, or received an adverse action like an increased deposit or co-signer requirement, must be informed in writing the reason why.
As you start searching for housing, make a list of any questions you have. Don’t be afraid to ask to speak to other tenants or to ask about the neighborhood, the nearest shopping centers, bus lines, or any visible damages to the unit. You can also speak to other residents in the building to find out what they like and don’t like about living there. You can gather information about other tenants’ experiences in the apartment building by researching it at Apartment Ratings. It is crucial that you read a lease very carefully before you sign it. It is a legally binding contract, and you can be held to any and all of the conditions of tenancy once you sign the document, as long as they do not conflict with any state or local laws. See below for a detailed list of questions to ask a potential landlord.
There are several types of programs that offer low- and moderate-income housing for renters in Washington State. See Apartment Finder or Washington State 2-1-1 for more detailed information on the different kinds of programs available in your area. Housing Search NW is also a good resource for housing in King County. For more detailed information on each kind of low income housing program, see Low Income Housing Rights. The types of low income housing available in Washington State are: