On June 7, 2012, the Washington Fair Tenant Screening Act went into effect in the State of Washington. Washington State tenant rights now require landlords to disclose to a prospective tenant the criteria used to make a rental decision. In addition, Washington State rental rights now maintain that should a landlord make a tenant requirement that may be considered an adverse action, like charging a higher deposit, the tenant will now have the right to know why.
This act came about because there are some circumstances that could appear on a tenant’s record that do not reflect their rental history accurately. An example of this is when a landlord’s property is foreclosed and the tenant, through no fault of their own, is evicted. With the additional transparency resulting from this change in the Washington State renters' rights, mistakes on the tenants’ records can be corrected. This can be especially true with eviction records.
The Washington Fair Tenant Screening Act requires all landlords to follow what is essentially a best-practice for the industry and this should help make the screening process more accurate. Under the provisions of the new law, landlords would be required to disclose the type of information that would be included in a basic report, and the type of criteria that could result in the denial of an application. The landlord would also need to share the name and address of the screening agency so tenants know where to go to correct erroneous information in a report. The provisions of this Washington State Act only apply when landlords accept application payments for screening services from the prospective tenant.
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