Washington's New Fair Tenant Screening Act

Washington's New Fair Tenant Screening Act

Washington's New Fair Tenant Screening Act

By Joe Murphy, General Manager of Airfactz
The Washington State Legislature has been in session or special session for what seems to be an endless amount of time. During these sessions they have unsuccessfully tried to solve the budget shortfall. However, they have found the time to deal with several bills that affect the rental industry, specifically the application and background screening process. While most of the bills didn't gain traction and are considered dead, one bill did pass both the house and senate and was signed by the governor. The bill is called the Fair Tenant Screening Act (FTSA). It was supported by both tenant and landlords and it becomes law on June 7th of this year.

Airfactz has always promoted similar procedures to what the law will soon require. We believe they are best practices and support the new law. When the new law goes into effect later this year it is going to affect all landlords in the state of Washington that are using a Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) like Airfactz. We want to help make sure everyone is ready by discussing the new changes early.

The first major change is going to be the requirement of providing an applicant with documents prior to obtaining any information about the applicant. The documents can be either posted or given in writing to the applicant, but must include the following:

  1. What types of information that will be accessed to conduct the tenant screening
    (For example credit report, criminal record, address history, rental history, etc.)
  2. What criteria may result in denial of the application
  3. If a consumer report is used, the name and address of the CRA and the prospective tenant's right to obtain a free copy of the consumer report in the event of a denial or other adverse action, and dispute the accuracy of the information appearing in the consumer report. (

The other major change addresses the adverse action letter and what is required in that letter to the applicant. The new letter must include the following elements in order to fulfill all legal requirements listed in the FTSA.

  1. Must be titled "Adverse Action Notice"
  2. Include the Name, Address, City, State, and Zip of landlord
  3. State that "This notice is to inform you that your application has been:"
  4. Denied/Rejected
  5. Approved with conditions (must state the conditions):
  6. Residency requires an increased deposit
  7. Residency requires a qualified guarantor (co-signer)
  8. Residency requires last month's rent
  9. Residency requires an increased monthly rent of $______
  10. Other:______
  11. State that "adverse action on your application was based on the following:"
  12. Information contained in a consumer report (The prospective landlord must include the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting agency that furnished the consumer report that contributed to the adverse action)
  13. The consumer credit report did not contain sufficient information
  14. Information received from previous rental history or reference
  15. Information received in a criminal record
  16. Information received in a civil record
  17. Information received from an employment verification
  18. Must include the date "Dated this _____ day of _____, 20_____"
  19. Agent/Owner must sign

If a landlord or prospective landlord violates this new law they may be liable for up to $100. In addition the prevailing party may seek court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Obviously, the real penalty is the attorneys' fees and the time it takes you to deal with it. Be sure that you are ready for these changes come June.

These new changes will help facilitate the communication process early between landlords and tenants. In fact, I believe most landlords already have a process that closely resembles this new law and for those that don't it will not take much extra time or money to comply. For clients using Airfactz, we are going to make the process as easy as possible and give everyone some tools to easily comply with this new law.

Airfactz already has available on its website a copy of the default criteria that we use for customers setup to receive recommendations based on our criteria ( If you have your own criteria it is important that it is in writing and is made available to the applicant at the time they receive their application. In addition Airfactz has just launched a new version of its online portal that will make complying with this requirement very simple. The first page of the portal includes a space for the criteria and requires that the applicant acknowledge it before they can continue with the application process.

Airfactz is currently in the process of updating the paper rental application and the adverse action letter to ensure that both meet the new requirements. The goal is to have these new forms completed by June 1st so they can be included in the June Newsletter. In the meantime if you have any questions or would like to discuss this new law and its impact please contact us.