SB 6490

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

As of January 29, 2020

Title: An act relating to addressing housing concerns for individuals impacted by the criminal justice system.

Brief Description: Addressing housing concerns for individuals impacted by the criminal justice system.

Sponsors: Senators Darneille, Das, Kuderer, Lovelett, Nguyen, Saldaña and Wilson, C.

Brief History:

Committee Activity: Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation: 1/30/20.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Prohibits a landlord from advertising, requiring disclosure of, taking an adverse action against, or implementing any policy or practice that automatically or categorically excludes individuals with any arrest record or conviction record from rental housing.


Staff: Alison Mendiola (786-7488)

Background: Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. The Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RLTA) regulates the relationship between residential landlords and tenants. The RLTA establishes rights and duties of both tenants and landlords, procedures for the parties to enforce their rights, and remedies for violations of the RLTA.

Tenant screening under the RLTA means using a consumer report or other information about a prospective tenant when determining whether to rent to the tenant. A tenant screening report means a consumer report as defined under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and any other information collected by a tenant screening service.

Landlords may engage in tenant screening to evaluate potential tenants, either by conducting their own searches of public records or by using a tenant screening service to obtain a report on a tenant. Prior to screening, a prospective landlord must notify a prospective tenant about:

A comprehensive reusable tenant screening report means a tenant screening report prepared by a consumer reporting agency at the direction of and paid for by the prospective tenant and made available directly to a prospective landlord at no charge, which contains all of the following:

A landlord may charge a prospective tenant for the cost of a tenant screening report. If the landlord conducts their own screening, the prospective landlord may charge for actual costs to obtain the background information, as long as the amount charged does not exceed the customary costs charged by a screening service in the area. In either case, the landlord may only assess a charge if the landlord provides the prospective tenant with the requisite prior notice outlined above.

If a prospective landlord takes an adverse action, they must provide a written notice of this action to the prospective tenant stating the reasons for the adverse action. This notice must disclose the basis for the adverse action, including whether it was based on information received from:

Any landlord who maintains a website advertising a rental unit, or as a source of information for current or prospective tenants, must indicate on the website whether the landlord will accept a comprehensive reusable report.

Unlawful Detainer. The RLTA includes provisions governing unlawful detainer actions, which allow a landlord to evict a tenant who has failed to pay rent or is otherwise holding over, and regain possession of the property.

Summary of Bill: Housing Justice Act. The Housing Justice Act is created. Under this Act, a landlord may not:

Adverse Action. If a landlord takes an adverse action based on a legitimate business reason, the landlord must provide written notice of the adverse action to the prospective tenant or tenant, and state the specific registry information that was the basis for the adverse action.

If the tenant screen report or comprehensive reusable tenant screening report is used by a landlord as part of the screening process, the landlord must provide the name and address of the consumer reporting agency and the prospective occupant's or tenant's rights to obtain a free copy of the tenant screening report in the event of a denial or other adverse action and to dispute the accuracy or information in the tenant screening report. The prospective tenant or tenant is provided with at least five business days from the time of the notice to dispute the accuracy and relevance of the tenant screening report.

Any refusal of tenancy under the act must be communicated to the tenant pursuant to the requirements of the adverse action notice as described in the RLTA.

Other Provisions. A landlord in violation of the act may be liable up to four and one-half times the monthly rent of the property at issue, as well as court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees. It is a defense to an unlawful detainer action that the action to remove the tenant and recover possession of the premises is a violation of the act. The act does not prohibit adverse housing decisions based upon other lawful factors within the landlord's knowledge. The act does not impair the ability of a local government to take an action that is more stringent than this act. This act supersedes and preempts all other local rules, regulations, codes, statutes, or ordinances regarding the provision of rental housing to tenants and prospective tenants with a conviction record or arrest record.

Exclusions. This act does not apply to:

Definitions. Adverse action means:

An adverse action notice must include information received in a criminal history record that relates to a legitimate business reason of the landlord.

Arrest record includes, but is not limited to, information indicating that a person has been questioned, apprehended, taken into custody or detention, held for investigation, arrested, charged with, indicted, or tried for any felony, misdemeanor, or other offense pursuant to any law enforcement or military authority.

Conviction record includes, but is not limited to, information indicating that a person has been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or other offense including a civil ordinance violation or forfeiture, placed on probation, fined, imprisoned, or paroled pursuant to any law enforcement or military authority.

A legitimate business reason exists when the policy or practice is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, and nondiscriminatory interest, which is determined by the landlord by demonstrating, through reliable evidence, a nexus between the policy or practice and resident safety or protecting the property, or both, in light of the following factors:

Registry information means information solely obtained from a county, statewide, or national sex offender registry including, but not limited to, the registrant's physical description, address, and conviction description and dates.

Supplemental information means any information produced by the prospective tenant or tenant, or produced on the tenant's behalf, with respect to the tenant's rehabilitation or good conduct including, but not limited to a written or oral statement from:

Supplemented information also includes a certificate of rehabilitation; a certificate of completion or enrollment in an educational or vocational training program, including apprenticeship programs; or a certificate of completion or enrollment in a drug or alcohol treatment program or in a rehabilitation program.

Miscellaneous. A comprehensive reusable tenant screening report may include a prospective tenant's criminal history except as limited by the act. The definitions of tenant screening and tenant screen report are amended to exclude information prohibited by the act. It is clarified that a prospective landlord is subject to the terms of the act prior to obtaining any information about a prospective tenant.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Not requested.

Creates Committee/Commission/Task Force that includes Legislative members: No.

Effective Date: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.