Federal Judge Upholds Renter Protections in Seattle

In a victory for Seattle renters and Summit client City of Seattle, U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour yesterday rejected a challenge to Seattle’s fair housing law, which prohibits landlords from using criminal background information in considering prospective tenants. A group of landlords and the Rental Housing Association of Washington challenged the ordinance on First Amendment and substantive due process grounds.

“We are honored that the City of Seattle calls upon our firm to assist with litigating First Amendment challenges. The Court’s thorough analysis of the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance confirms that the City acted well within its constitutional authority to address housing and racial inequity,” said Summit litigation attorney Jessica Goldman.

The Fair Chance Housing legislation was unanimously passed by the Seattle City Council in 2017 and was part of a decade-long effort to address bias against people with a criminal record, which has a disproportionate impact on people of color.

“The Ordinance is a reasonable means of achieving the City’s objectives and does not burden substantially more speech than is necessary to achieve them,” wrote Coughenour.

“A criminal conviction should not be a lifelong sentence to living on the streets," City Attorney Pete Holmes said in a news release. “Housing access is core to stabilizing a person’s life, so I’m thankful to the judge for making the sound legal decision today.”

Read more about the case in the City of Seattle news release, “Federal Judge Upholds Seattle’s Fair Chance Housing Law.”

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