Proposed Rules for Source of Income and First in Time

November 29, 2016

We received this information from our partner, Washington Multi-Family Housing Association.  Our Legislative Committee wanted to share it with our members.  

Dear Seattle Property Managers,
As you may know, the Seattle City Council passed a law in August expanding Source of Income protections and creating a new First-in-Time Regulation. 
The added Source of Income protections took effect in September.  The First-in-Time regulation takes effect January 1, 2017.  WMFHA has delayed sending a detailed summary of the law to better understand how the City will enforce the law.  Attached is a summary of the First-in-Time regulation.  Stay tuned for more information about a training WMFHA will host to provide further clarification on this law and the law limiting move-in fees. 
The most important effect of the law on your business practices is the requirement to include your screening criteria and the minimum threshold to be accepted in your screening criteria in all online advertising of your available units.  The minimum threshold must be provided with the screening criteria, and on any website advertising a unit for rent, including Craigslist, Zillow and others.  Access to the screening criteria must be readily apparent and directly accessible on your website and on other online advertising.  Below is a link to draft administrative rules which have been published for public comment.  These proposed rules help to further describe the notice requirements for screening criteria.  WMFHA has participated in the rulemaking process and has helped to shape these rules to obtain clarity in the law and to reflect, as much as possible, ordinary business practices. 
A copy of the Source of Income/First-in-Time Proposed Administrative Rules ordinance can be found here. 
During the lawmaking process of this regulation, WMFHA worked hard to alleviate the tremendous burden parts of this new regulation will require of your teams.  You are strongly encouraged to review the proposed rules and provide comments on them to the Seattle Office of Civil Rights.  Comments must be received by December 2, 2016 to the Seattle Office of Civil Rights.  It is important to remember that the rulemaking process cannot change the content of the law, only further define or clarify portions of the law.    
As the rulemaking process moves forward, AHMA, ARHC and WMFHA are seeking to work with other stakeholders to propose friendly amendments to the legislation that will clean up the First-in-Time regulation and make the notice requirements less onerous on housing providers, all the while maintaining sufficient access to housing for all of our neighbors.