King County Council passes renter protections bill

The legislation is intended to prevent landlords from discriminating based on the source of a prospective tenant’s income.

The King County Council passed legislation this week that seeks to protect vulnerable people on the hunt for housing.

The ordinance, which was sponsored by Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, adds renters and homebuyers with verifiable incomes from Social Security, retirement programs, Section 8 Vouchers, and other government housing cost subsidy programs to the list of persons protected from landlord discrimination.

It builds on the county’s existing Fair Housing Ordinance of 1981, which prohibited landlords from denying prospective tenants and homebuyers housing based on their race, sex, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, disability status, and other characteristics.

The bill passed the council on April 16 with a unanimous vote.

“For many in our communities, stable housing is a ticket out of generational poverty,” siad Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles in a statement following the bill’s passage. “It’s important to recognize how far we have come but remember how much we still have left to do to ensure all people are treated fairly as they seek access to housing.”

Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, and Seattle have all adopted similar policies to prevent landlords from denying prospective tenants housing based on their income.

Research has shown that source-of-income discrimination is a major driver of geographic economic segregation and prevents low-income tenants from living in wealthier neighborhoods.

jkelety@soundpublishing.com

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