Criminal History Protections

JUNE 2023 UPDATE: Fair Chance Housing Ordinance

As of June 6, 2023, due to a recent ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) will no longer enforce the portion of the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance (FCHO) that bans a landlord from inquiring about a tenant’s or applicant’s criminal history. SOCR will continue to enforce all other portions of the FCHO, including bans (subject to exceptions) on requiring a tenant or applicant to disclose their criminal history or taking an adverse action based on that history.

If you are a landlord, property manager, housing provider, or community organization, please contact us at or call (206) 684-4500 to answer your questions.

If you are a person with criminal history, please contact us at or call (206) 684-4500 to answer your questions.

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (Updated June 6, 2023)

Training Opportunities for Tenants, Landlords and Service Providers

Final Administrative Rules 

Fair Chance Housing Ordinance

Press Release - Council Committee Approves Fair Chance Housing Legislation (August 8, 2017)

GARE Blog - Seattle: A Fair Chance Housing Ordinance Centering Racial Equity (April 17, 2018)

Questions or want to report a violation?

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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.