Seattle Facing Opposition in the Courts Over their Fair Chance Housing Act

A court fight is set to commence between supporters and detractors of the “Fair Chance Housing Act” in Seattle, Washington. The law, which was enacted in February 2018, prohibited landlords from conducting criminal background checks on prospective tenants. Opponents of the law argue their free speech, property rights, and safety are being jeopardized when they are prohibited from searching for relevant public information on possible tenants. Advocates of the law claim that the law helps combat a housing crisis in Seattle that has been worsened by disproportionate arrest and conviction rates for minorities.

This legislation in Seattle continues the nationwide trend of limiting how and when employers, and now property owners, utilize background screening when evaluating prospective employees or tenants. As with all these similar laws, the goals have been to remove barriers for re-entering society for individuals with a criminal history. The thinking is, if past offenders can gain employment and stable housing then their odds of recidivism decrease.

This upcoming court battle highlights the continuing fight over the rights of property owners and businesses to protect their assets and people with the idea of creating a level playing field for former offenders in the employment and housing markets. ‘Ban the box’ legislation has been gaining popularity over the past several years, and for those same advocates to begin to address how the practice of background screening affects prospective tenants was a logical next step.

If Seattle city officials are successful in winning approval in the court system for laws like the “Fair Chance Housing Act”, you could expect similar laws to sprout in other municipalities.  It is incumbent on employers and property owners alike to ensure their procedures comply any relevant laws that affect how and when they may use tools like background screening.

Visit our Videos page to get more information concerning the background screening industry and some of the hot topics, like ‘ban the box’, that affect it.

The IntelliCorp Whitepaper page contains various papers which tackle important topics for anyone who utilizes background screening services.

Visit our Compliance page to gain a better understanding with how IntelliCorp views our legal compliance obligations and how our policies and procedures help our clients remain compliant.


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