Fair Chance Housing

APRIL 2023 UPDATE: Fair Chance Housing Ordinance

On March 21, 2023, a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance (FCHO). The Court decided that the portion of the Ordinance banning landlords from asking tenants and applicants about criminal history is unconstitutional. However, the Court upheld the portion that bans landlords from taking adverse actions, such as denying housing based on criminal history.

The City Attorney’s office has asked the full court to rehear this decision. Because the Ordinance remains valid until the appeal process concludes, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights will continue enforcement of this law. The timeline for the Court’s decision is unknown.

Call (206) 684-4500 with questions or email discrimination@seattle.gov.

In August 2017, the City of Seattle passed Fair Chance Housing legislation to help prevent unfair bias in housing against renters with a past criminal record.

The new ordinance prevents landlords from unfairly denying applicants housing based on criminal history. It also prohibits the use of advertising language that automatically or categorically excludes people with arrest records, conviction records, or criminal history.

The legislation caps a decade-long effort to address bias against people who have served their time, are seeking to provide for themselves and their families, and yet have faced barriers to accessing safe, stable housing.

The ordinance went into effect on Feb. 19, 2018, and is enforced by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. Our office will also offer training opportunities for landlords, tenants, and others to learn about the requirements under the new law.

Useful Links and Resources

Training Opportunities for Tenants, Landlords and Service Providers

Final Administrative Rules 

Fair Chance Housing Ordinance

Press Release - Council Committee Approves Fair Chance Housing Legislation

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (edited August 23, 2018)

GARE blog - Seattle: A Fair Chance Housing Ordinance Centering Racial Equity

Questions or want to report a violation?

Contact Us

Civil Rights

Newsletter Updates


Sign up for the latest updates from Civil Rights

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) works to advance civil rights and end barriers to equity. We enforce laws against illegal discrimination in employment, housing, public places, and contracting within Seattle.