In Washington, there are particular laws which apply to what a landlord may or may not do when it comes to screening for potential clients. Washington law is often unique as compared to other states, so it is important to understand what you as the landlord are allowed to do and what you are prohibited from doing during that process.
With the help of experienced landlord/tenant attorney Quinn Posner, you as the landlord can rest assured that you are following Washington law while screening for the best possible tenants to occupy your properties.
Before a landlord is permitted to obtain any information about a prospective tenant, the landlord must first notify the prospective tenant in writing, or by post, all of the following.
- What types of information will be accessed to conduct the tenant screening.
- What criteria may result in denial of the application.
- If a consumer report is used, the name and address of the reporting agency, and the prospective tenant's rights to get a free copy of the consumer report, and the rights to dispute its accuracy.
- Whether the landlord will accept a comprehensive reusable tenant screening report.
The written notice must inform the tenant of each of these items in order to protect both the landlord's and tenant's rights.
Imposition of Costs
A landlord is allowed to charge for the screening process, but any charges must strictly follow the rules set by the state of Washington. To charge costs, the landlord must first appropriately notify the tenant of all of the requirements listed above.
Second, if the landlord conducts his or her own screening, they may charge only the actual costs in obtaining the background check. The amount charged is not allowed to exceed the customary costs charged by a screening service in your general area. Costs may also include costs for long distance phone calls, and any time spent calling landlords, employers, and financial institutions.
If you have questions about whether your process and your charges comply with Washington law, Quinn Posner can answer your questions based on his years of experience representing Washington landlords.
Adverse Action Notice
If, as a result of the screening, the landlord wishes to take an "adverse action" against a tenant, the tenant must receive a proper notice. An adverse action may include, but is not limited to
- approval with additional conditions,
- requiring a guarantor,
- requiring an increase in advertised monthly rent, and
- requiring an increase in the deposit.
The notice must also state any reason for the adverse action. The landlord is required to notify the tenant why any adverse action was taken against the tenant and the specific information the landlord relied upon in making their determination.
Consult a Washington Landlord/Tenant Attorney
If you are a landlord in the state of Washington and have questions about whether your current screening process and forms comply with Washington law, or if you need assistance in creating a legal process, you do not have to face this complicated process alone.
Experienced landlord/tenant attorney Quinn Posner represents clients in Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, and the rest of Clark County. Contact Quinn Posner today to schedule a free consultation.